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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 09:19 GMT
Flood report blames water company
Flooding in Hull
More than 8,600 homes in Hull were damaged by June's floods
Many homes in Hull were damaged in the summer floods because Yorkshire Water failed to act on warnings dating back to 1996, a damning report says.

More than 10,000 properties were affected when heavy rains overwhelmed the city's drainage system on 25 June.

An independent review says that if the water company had heeded warnings about a pumping station "some properties in Hull would have not been flooded".

Yorkshire Water said no drainage system could have coped with the deluge.

"It is wrong to say that homes would have escaped flooding if we simply had bigger pumps," the company said in a statement.

"We are not complacent, however, and will act immediately to make further significant investment to upgrade and improve the resilience of our infrastructure."

Until a permanent solution is built, Hull is served by an under-capacity, sub-standard system
Independent Review Body report

Hull City Council commissioned the report from an independent body chaired by Tom Coulthard, professor of physical geography at Hull University.

It concluded that more than 8,600 homes, 1,300 businesses and 90 schools suffered flood damage as a result of June's heavy rain.

"Using evidence from a series of reports commissioned by Yorkshire Water, we have noted that over a period of 11 years, a series of clear recommendations relating to the condition, design and operation of the drainage and pumping systems of Hull were made to Yorkshire Water," it said.

"For some of these recommendations Yorkshire Water was unable to produce any records of, or confirm action taken, in respect of this advice.

"We believe that had these recommendations been implemented the impacts of the floods in June 2007 would not have been as severe."

The report added that: "Until a permanent solution is built, Hull is served by an under-capacity, sub-standard system helped out by two 40-year-old pumping stations."

Much of the criticism relates to a pumping station at Bransholme which broke down after it was flooded.

Because it was unable to pump away water, homes and businesses nearby remained flooded longer than those in other areas and 1,000 households suffered extensive damage.

Capacity 'overestimated'

The report recommends the pumping station be modernised and its capacity increased.

Three reports dating back to 1996 had recommended the station be improved and there were suggestions that a second should be built.

The water company is also accused of repeatedly overestimating the capacity of its equipment to deal with heavy rain, a failing which the report said had probably contributed to thousands of pounds worth of damage to properties which could have been protected from flooding.

Yorkshire Water said: "The issue is not about building bigger pumps, but of the capacity of the drains and the sewers to cope with the intensity and concentration of the rainfall in these extreme weather events.

"We cannot pump water if the water cannot get to the pumps because the drains and sewers are full to capacity.

"This report should have been a catalyst for change and better co-operation and we are disappointed that it has chosen to focus instead on the shortcomings of our pumping infrastructure rather than the bigger picture of protecting Hull from future flooding and the effects of climate change."


A selection of your comments

I just hope that enough investment goes into the infrastructure
Karl, Hull, East Yorkshire

I live in a street that was subjected to the flooding. Houses are being repaired (slowly), but I'm not confident of this not happening again. I don't know if Yorkshire Water should have done more. I just hope that enough investment goes into the infrastructure, it will probably have to come from Yorkshire Water, as the government won't invest as it's only Hull, and it's in the North.
Karl, Hull, East Yorkshire

YW should have spent more money on maintenance and increasing capacity, and less money on huge bonus payments for senior staff. Getting any kind of rebate on our water rates will be like trying to get blood out of a stone, I would imagine. I bet they try to increase our bill next year, too!
Anne-Marie, Hull

Luckily I missed the floods in Barnsley but my sister and family did not. They live in Lundwood and were flooded by the emergency services being advised to pump water from one side of Grange Lane (near the Mill of the Black Monks Pub to save the bridge there from collapsing. Apparently the water board told them to do this regardless of the fact that both sides of the bank of the river was overflowing. It compounded things on my sister's side where there is a water treatment facility also. This action meant that all the houses that flooded on Lang Ave were flooded with contaminated sewage water. And lo and behold afterward no -one wanted to take the blame for the situation they made.
Julie Dudas, Barnsley South Yorshire

What a refreshing take on a solution which is obvious and well thought out. Why does Yorkshire Water not pick up he bill for the recovery programme. Or be fined an equivalent as an incentive to update and protect resources to ensure the pumping stations can cope with extraordinary natural events and infrastructure changes.
Stephen Johns, Cottingham

The council could clean the drains more often
Leigh Boynton, Hull, England

I was affected by the floods around the Willerby Road area. Moorhouse Road to be precise. The floods have meant we have had to move house so work can be completed. I think that the council could clean the drains more often because in the 5 years we lived there, they weren't cleaned once.
Leigh Boynton, Hull, England

I worked for Yorkshire Water for 11 years until March this year. All I can say is that the company is clearly one of the best utilities in this country. It has programmes of preventative maintenance and spends hundreds of millions of pounds every year maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure. To come out with bland statements like a pumping station was at fault because it hadn't been repaired is misleading and naive on the part of the review. Blocked drains are the main issue and they are the council's responsibility.
Mick, Leeds

I think it's disgusting that Yorkshire Water chose to ignore this report and in doing so, effectively condemn Hull to this fate. I cannot see how they can consciously gamble with people's homes, businesses and ultimately lives. Another case of big businesses cutting corners to save money whilst the fat cats give themselves million pound bonuses. Will I receive a bonus for being out of my house for a year, losing my car, paying more in car insurance as well as house insurance? No, the people of Hull will have to suffer the consequences of Yorkshire Water's incompetence.
Dave C, Hull, England


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