Lecture on the importance of flood plains in Sussex

A flood plain south of Henfield
A flood plain south of Henfield

Bexhill Museum members and guests were treated to a most informative and stimulating presentation during the second lecture of the 2015 spring season, held at St Augustine’s Hall on February 18.

This attractively illustrated talk was given by Fran Southgate, Wetlands Officer for Sussex Wildlife Trust.

With vivid memories of the 2013/14 winter’s exceptional rainfall which caused such extensive flooding in the UK still very clear, the concerns of the Trust are apparent.

Fran put to the audience how we should consider the landscape to help us use and store precious water resources, so vital for life. No doubt the statistic of 160 litres of water per person per day (or one ton per week), being the consumption of inhabitants in the south-east, was a rather startling one. Obviously flooding in urban areas is not to be welcomed, but much could be done to mitigate this.

Excessive use of concrete surfaces in towns, blocking of drains and building on flood plains being obvious problems during heavy rainfall.

Surface water flooding is the greatest threat not that from rivers or the sea.

We are lucky in Sussex to have the chalk Downs as our water source.

The crystal-clear chalk streams are unique in the UK and the underground aquifers provide 70% of the county’s needs.

Many fine photographs illustrated well the problems of too much water but also what can be done to cope with this.

Careful planning and thought-full work with co-operation from enlightened farmers and builders, working with nature and the landscape, contributes much in a changing climate.

In urban areas collecting rainfall in water butts and green roofs can be of obvious benefit.

Farmland where rivers are diverted to form meanders on flood plains can slow the flow.

The restoration of reed beds cleans out pollution and attracts much welcome wildlife to the interesting vegetation.

A very comprehensive talk from this lecturer showed her enthusiasm and concern for her subject - water.

The next lecture in the series will be on Wednesday March 4 at 2.30 pm, a St Augustine’s Hall, St Augustines Close off Cooden Drive. Ken Brooks will be speaking about the South American culture of the ), in connection with the new exhibition at the Museum.

Visitors very welcome. £4 per person, reduced to £3 for museum members, including refreshments.