Good evening everyone. Iím going to attempt an overview of our current situation and will try not to make it too long.
In 2001 5 inches of water came up into the middle of our house. To try and understand what the problem was I searched in 2002 for an overall drainage plan for this area, which I assumed must exist. Silly of me. I was told that anything remotely like a plan only existed in Georgeís head ... and he was retiring.
At that time a young Canadian engineer was on a yearís placement with Streetcare and made a fantastic attempt to update what meagre info was available. But that still left most plans with pencil scribbles and arrows with question marks.
In 2009 when OGAFCA started we had a dialogue with Streetcare from the outset and were very quickly told that a statutory requirement was in the pipeline from central government requiring local authorities to develop clear records of the flooding and drainage situation in their area.
Not much happened until in 2014 RBWM appointed consultants WSP to undertake what they referred to as an Area Catchment Study. Two young ladies from WSP came to gather whatever useful info they could from OGAFCA and left with a very detailed map of everything we knew. They produced what they referred to as a Tabletop Study which was remarkably close to our understanding.
WSP went on to do a limited area study of a local area but we never found out where that was and the report was never published. The explanation was that it was too potentially damaging to local landowners and householders.
Not long after that RBWM fired WSP as consultants and nothing more happened for years.
Nearly 10 years later the Catchment Area Study is about to be relaunched. Some funds have been granted and Ben Crampin of RBWM Flood Risk is preparing the way by trying to set up local information-gathering meetings. Consultants Project Centre and contractors Volker Highways will be involved as well as Parish Councillors. OGAFCA have been asked to attend and will again offer an updated version of that original map database from 2014.
The study will clearly take some time but whatever it discovers there is no escaping the fact that a change of approach and mindset is going to be essential if it is to achieve anything useful. There will have to be a willingness to develop a credible overall plan that puts aside the tendency to shrug off problems with ďitís on private landĒ.
The plan needs to ignore that in its formulation stage and negotiate with private landowners once the ideals have been established. Most of it will probably need to involve delaying the speedy onward flow of water and holding in various areas for longer periods, gradually releasing it. I look forward to seeing if that proves possible ... if I live long enough.
Streetcare claimed to be examining that possibility way back in the mists of time but no conclusion was ever reached before Project Centre took over.
There are of course several more straightforward issues that need ongoing attention.
What should be the simplest of all is the constantly repeating problem at the speed bump near Longlea Nursing Home. To improve this does not require rocket science - itís a simple issue that the adjacent landowner will not accept responsibility for and neither will Highways.
A few meters south the watercourse heading north through Parish land and the culvert under the entrance to Manor Grove and then on to the pipe under Longleaís entrance exiting into the major ditch north needs constant monitoring.
For a while 2 local businessmen were offering equipment, men, and expertise to clear all the drainage just mentioned above but unfortunately that now seems to have fallen out of sight.
Just to the south a problem still repeats at the Coningsby Lane junction. Although it is minor compared to what used to happen the gullies still let water back up from time to time.
The major Coningsby Lane relief project has functioned brilliantly but at the exit point from that route further north onto Fifield road it is not clear where all that water goes to.
It doesnít seem to head north as one might expect. It is possible it might descend into the surrounds of the water pipeline that crosses under Fifield Road at that point.
There is still a problem for local residents at the Fifield Road culvert just south of Coningsby Lane that can probably only be alleviated by a proper plan to slow water flow before it gets there.
South of Stewart Close is still vulnerable to water collecting in the road. This has been complicated by the recent building of a house whose rear corner extends half way across what was the main eastward flowing exit ditch. The planning requirement for a 600 mm concrete pipe to cope with it has in fact reduced the capacity of the route considerably and it remains to be seen if it has exacerbated the problem. The situation in this area has caused problems for several residents over the years but one in particular has had to construct their own defences and install 2 sump pumps.
Keep heading south and there is an ongoing unresolved problem at the Fifield Inn. Once again probably only really resolved or improved by the delay of flow before it gets there.
The Cricket Club stretch of road is still an erratic potential threat - probably also needs flow delays.
Finally the flow down Tarbay Lane and then under the Dedworth Road onto and through Cardinal Clinic land still looms ominously and will need to be seriously considered by any development of the land between the Clinic and the A308.
I will do my best to keep all these issues on the agenda until I step down at the end of the year and will be on call to support whoever picks up the challenge in 2024 and onwards. Everything possible is available in quite considerable detail on the website. Just type OGAFCA into Google.
I'm old and running out of energy and strength so if anybody knows anyone who might be prepared to take on the task of being OGAFCA's drainage irritant please ask them to step forward as soon as possible.
The same goes for graphics and printing and web site maintenance and updates etc. Surely there MUST be people in our area with the knowledge and skills needed to carry these on ?