Flooding

Only two summers ago, West Sussex faced a drought so severe that standpipes were nearly introduced.  In fact it was the driest period of weather since the 1930s.

The reservoirs that serve us were so low that a hosepipe ban imposed by Southern Water in June 2005 was only lifted a year and a half later, in January 2007.

This all seemed a distant memory when earlier this week almost two-thirds of the predicted January rainfall for the South East came down in a 24 hour deluge.  One minute we face drought, the next we are awash.

As I write, the latest information from the Environment Agency shows that there are currently 57 flood warnings in operation across the country - although, thankfully, the River Adur East branch from Burgess Hill to Henfield has recently been given the all clear.

It was somewhat disturbing to be sitting in the House of Commons hearing reports from the constituency - including road closures near Henfield, and six people being led to safety from their homes in Arundel - wondering how bad things were.

It could have been worse.  The Environment Agency issued a ‘flood watch' earlier in the week which included the Adur and Arun valleys, but they say the worst is now over.

Of course we have had floods before, but the worry is that there may be more risk of them in the years to come.

Last year, an Environment Agency report warned that climate change would increase the potential risk of flooding in West Sussex, in particular in the Lower Adur area.

The irony is that in spite of the recent deluges and wet summer last year, and reservoirs filling it, Southern Water cannot guarantee that there won't be a hosepipe ban in West Sussex this summer.

"Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink."  It could only happen in England.

Michelle Taylor