The Met Office have recently published data stating that 2012 was officially the wettest on record for England and the 2nd wettest for the UK as a whole. This statistic is even more remarkable considering that between January and March rainfall levels where considerably down on an average year, with droughts and hosepipe bans in place throughout Southern and Eastern England. In addition, the frequency of extreme rainfall events has also been increasing significantly with the average 1:100 day rainfall event occurring only every 70 days in 2012.

We could consider ourselves fortunate that we started from these drought conditions which have enabled much of the rainfall to be stored in reservoirs and within the ground; however, the BGS have confirmed that the majority of our aquifers are now full and we are seeing the effects with regular flash flooding occurring throughout the UK.

The financial and psychological devastation that flooding causes homes and business owners is huge and as designers we must therefore take responsibility for ensuring that our buildings and infrastructure are both safe and resilient. Siting vulnerable development away from rivers and the sea is a good start; however careful consideration also needs to be made of other sources of flooding (groundwater, reservoirs, drainage systems, overland flow etc.) which are sometimes overlooked.

Building of higher and larger flood defenses is no longer a financially viable or sustainable solution and only by taking small steps with the introduction of sustainable drainage systems and appropriate flood mitigation and resilient construction measures will we begin to address the wider issues, learning to live with water rather than fighting against it.

Further information can be found on the Met Office and BBC websites.