Posted: Friday 6th November 2009

Flooding is predicted to become a major problem due to the effects of increased urbanisation and the extreme rainfall patterns and rising sea levels resulting from climate change. ‘Concrete and Flooding’, new guidance published by The Concrete Centre, sets out the causes of flooding and how to prevent or reduce their impact.

The threat of flooding is second only to terrorism in the UK government’s national risk register. The impacts of climate change, coastal erosion, continued urban expansion and overloaded sewerage and drainage systems will increase that threat. The Environment Agency estimates that 80,000 homes are at very high risk of flooding while the Association of British Insurers (ABI) reports that the costs of the 2007 floods was £3bn and estimates that the cost of flooding could increase15-fold by the 2080s.

Flooding can result from a number of sources including rivers and streams, surface water run-off, coastal flooding, groundwater and the failure of sewers and drains. There are, however, a number of concrete solutions. Concrete retaining walls, sea and river defences, and flood barriers can all provide a high level of flood protection that once installed offer long-term performance with minimum maintenance. In addition to protection, concrete offers solutions for effective flood management. Sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) aim to mimic the natural drainage of a site in order to reduce the impact of urban development. Both pervious and permeable concrete solutions can be used either together or as separate solutions.

Where flooding is inevitable, such as flood plains, concrete offers a high level of resilience. It does not warp or rot and continues to offer structural integrity. This resilience minimises flood damage and, subsequently, the time taken for buildings to be dried out, repaired and made habitable. The inherent flood resilience of concrete floors and walls has been recognised by ABI and by guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government CLG and the Royal Institute of Architects on how to improve the flood resilience of buildings.

The risk of flooding is increasing. ‘Concrete and flooding’ shows how this risk can be prevented, and where the risk remains, how the impact of flooding can be managed and minimised.

Copies of ‘Concrete and Flooding’ are available as a free download from

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July 2019

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