So the rain continues to pour, to pour down onto the low-lying areas of south Somerset known as the Levels, a name which describes their elevation perfectly. Historically, since records began, and since geological research has ascertained, this are has been subject to floods, usually by the sea; however, since organised drainage began, probably with the Romans, and much more efficiently since then, the winter flooding of the area has reduced. water and drainage management as enabled farmers and others living in the area to have successful businesses and safe living. last year a combination of heavy rain, poor maintenance of drains, ditches and rivers, caused a huge flood which cut some villages off for weeks, and cost farmers hundreds of thousands of pounds.
This year, despite some dredging and clearing and other work, torrential rain over weeks and weeks has caused this area to flood once again. To properly dredge the River Parrett, which is the main drainage system along with the River Tone which runs through Taunton, would cost millions and millions of pounds… but at the moment the damage done to the farmers and people living out in the Somerset villages is costing them their livelihoods.
Don’t imagine the floods are just like big lakes across fields; floods are dangerous, moving waters. Currents are created by the hidden rivers and streams, and by the water moving to see its level; these currents flow swiftly and dangerously. As on any large body of water when the wind blows waves are created, these waves lash against buildings and they are not clean waves. The flood water is polluted; it is polluted by broken sewerage systems – containing not just human waste but everything else which might be disposed of down a lavatory which I leave to your imagination. It is polluted by dead animals – not so many farm animals as wild animals. The government spent countless thousands of pounds trying to cull badgers by shooting them in an effort to reduce bovine TB; the floods have drowned countless badgers, rabbits, foxes, deer… and rats try to escape by colonising buildings and homes. It is polluted by natural farm waste, chemicals, fuel… just use your imagination as to what might be in that filthy water.
The waters kill, not just the animals and insects (benign and malign) but also the seeds, the growing crops, the grass, the helpful bacteria in the soil. The water has overwhelmed cars and machinery, flooded homes and businesses… it is fortunate that no lives have been lost… only livelihoods.
You can see how badly silted up the River Parrett is, all the reeds to the right are growing on mud, the edge of the river is below where the grey wall is. You can see further down the river there are more reeds growing on the left