Falkirk's flooding fears

WILLIAM Paisley (60) has lived in Glensburgh Road, Grangemouth, for almost 30 years and says he has been flooded every single one of them.

"Whenever we get a spring tide and a lot of rain the drainage system just backs up and overflows instead of letting the water drain back into the River Carron. I've had sandbags at my house for the last five

years.

"The people down below us have spent a fortune trying to get rid of the

dampness and my floor is actually collapsing – the whole row of houses in this road have similar problems with water coming up under their homes.

"My neighbour has a tidal mark on the outside of his house – his home most be the one of must regularly flooded properties in Scotland."

Mr Paisley believes the drains in the road cannot cope with the amount of water at certain times of the year and various new building developments have not helped in recent years.

"More and more new builds, like Falkirk Stadium and Earls Gate Business Park, don't give much leeway, so as a result it's got to flood. I mean, it's like we are the sacrificial lambs down here.

"Falkirk Council said the drainage is satisfactory, but whenever it rains along with a spring tide the water bursts out of the drains and floods the roads and our homes – how can that be satisfactory?"

Mr Paisley said Falkirk Council have recently carried out an investigation into the problem.

"Now they are doing these surveys to find out what's wrong, but we've been telling them about this for years and years. The only reason they

are doing this now is because of a threat to the Helix canal link.

"They have been putting cameras down and just from talking to workers, they say they have found a lot of problems with the drains.''

RON Jack (77) bought his 30-acre farm near Banknock in 1984 and planned to start a new life with his wife and son.

However, seven years later, the family's troubles began.

He said: "We just looked out our window one day and saw one of our

fields disappearing. Then we heard from neighbours that in 1975 the water company at the time took out the field drains and never replaced them.

"It meant the water couldn't get out and so our fields were flooded."

After 20 years and countless complaints to various utilities, Mr Jack is still waiting for the problem to be properly resolved.

He said: "The fields are completely ruined, you can't do anything with the grass and they are a hazard to us and our livestock. It's animal cruelty to keep livestock in those fields.

"Last year we had a bull that hurt its back so badly because it fell into a hole caused by the flooding that we had to have it put down.

Instead of getting a good living from this, we're having to subsidise it. I'm looking for an apology and for something to be done about it."

THE risk of floods will always be high in the Falkirk area – but there are people fighting an on–going battle to keep the water at bay.

Three members of Falkirk Council's development services - Robert McMasters, acting head of roads and design, and flood prevention officers Hamish McPhee and Sharon Smith - are striving to implement the

Flood Risk Management Act (Scotland) 2009, working alongside the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and bodies like Scottish Water.

Hamish said: "If someone has experienced flooding in their home or street then they panic whenever it rains. We appreciate their concerns and try to deal with them.

"We use our common sense and our experience to deal with flooding areas. We don't have to experience an actual flood in an area first in order to come up with something to prevent it in the future.

"When we are in the water it often comes up over our waders and we have squads of guys out there in all kinds of conditions, day and night, doing their jobs."

Robert said: "You can't stop flooding, but you can manage it. It's inevitable some localised flooding will take place, but if we didn't take the action we take then the level of flooding experienced by people would be much worse."

That action involves a lot of preparation and some prediction - with teams taking heed of Met Office reports and reacting to potential extreme weather situations before they actually occur.

Sharon said: "Whenever heavy rainfall is predicted we are proactive, going out cleaning the screens to minimise the flooding – you have to take action in advance, you can't wait for the flooding to occur and then deal with it.

"Unfortunately we can't be everywhere at the same time."

The flooding screens, which are relatively easy to clear, stop foliage and other items from clogging up culverts and causing a build up of water.

Hamish said the council now operates a programme of regular screen cleaning to combat some residents who seem to believe their water courses can be used as a waste disposal dump.

He said: "We find things like grass cuttings, garden furniture and even household waste caught in the screens."

The officers want to get the message across to people who dump rubbish in these locations are increasing the risk of flooding in their area.

According to the team, the low-lying areas around the River Forth will always be more at risk – places like Skinflats, Airth and, of course, Grangemouth.

Hamish said; "Floods happen for different reasons – high tides, heavy rainfall and low pressure. If you're really unlucky you get all of them happening at the same time."

Sharon said: "You do get high tides in summer which, teamed with other factors, can cause flooding, but the worst period for flooding is in winter with coastal low pressure systems during that time of year.

"It's about rainfall patterns and we do tend to get a lot of flash floods in July, August and September."

The global issue of climate change is also a factor.

Hamish said: "There is a change in pattern – the intensity of the rainfall is changing. We are continually adapting to deal with these issues.

"That might not be apparent to people who are affected by flooding, but we are."

Visit the SEPA website at www.sepa.org.uk for more information on flood risk areas and flood prevention.