Ever get the feeling things are going on that you don’t know about? Perhaps in the next office or right underneath your feet? You might just put this down to personal paranoia, but actually you’d be right – a great deal of activity is constantly taking place, helping to keep our green and pleasant land free from floods and to keep terra firma just as you would expect it.
Water for industry
Let’s start with farming in the UK – the output of this is heavily influenced each year by our climate and rainfall – receiving the right amount of rain at the right time helps maintain correct water levels for crops to flourish. Consequently the weather and our rainfall are regularly commented on by the media and the UK farming community.
Although rain is a key factor in food production, what’s less often considered is the maintenance of vital drainage and flood defences that are also key to our agricultural land remaining in a usable state. Drainage is something we are all dependant on, to keep the land we use operational so that land-based industry can continue to function and contribute to the UK economy.
The role of an Internal Drainage Board (IDB), like the drains themselves, is not often seen, but we depend on them to maintain a complex structure of watercourses and a range of physical assets, such as pumping stations and bridges.
When Witham Fourth IDB recently carried out a survey of their physical assets, they needed to plot the locations on a map and add to their geographic information system (GIS). This work was made possible by using Ordnance Survey digital mapping products, under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement, to provide the mapping background required for this activity.
The products used for this work included the following:
- 1:10 000 Scale Raster
- 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster
IDB’s also carry out other activities, such as surveying work. Again, Ordnance Survey data provides a supporting role, providing heights of solid structures such as bridges and ‘solid geology’ – this is vital in determining the flow of water in a watercourse, as water generally likes to flow downhill and tolerances on heights and flow rates are minimal.
Water in an emergency:
When responding to an emergency situation, Ordnance Survey also plays a key role with the use of addressing data. Witham Fourth IDB use ADDRESS-POINT which allows postcode information to be quickly identified, helping to pinpoint an incident and direct appropriate resources to the scene. As climate change continues and the risks of flooding increases in some areas, this will become an ever-more important activity.
Prevention as well as cure:
IDB’s also work to prevent incidents occurring with regard to their input into planning applications. Once again, ADDRESS-POINT allows the identification of an exact location of an application and supports a review of the degree of flood risk to any proposed property.
Leisure and tourism protected
As well as more commercial activities relating to industry, IDB’s play their part in protecting consumer-related activities. These include monitoring and protecting local historical monuments. With Witham Fourth IDB, this includes sites such as Revesby Abbey. Flood prevention is vital to protecting these older and more fragile structures.
The IDB also work closely with council and environmental agency initiatives such as clearing areas where rubbish is routinely ‘fly-tipped’. Pinpointing these areas helps target resources, particularly where refuse could block vital water-courses and cause flooding that would impact a range of business and consumer land users.
So, next time you’re on holiday, exploring a beach, a wide grassy plain or enjoying the grounds of a historic building, spare a thought for your local Drainage Board – you might be stepping on some of their great work.
For more information on the unseen work of drainage boards, please visit http://www.ada.org.uk/
For more information on public sector organisations and how they use Ordnance Survey products under the PSMA, please visit our case-study map: http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/public-sector/case-studies/locator/index.html
Images courtesy of Witham Fourth IDB