The very well attended meeting on Thursday 21st June 2018 was led by our speaker Phil Brewin from the Internal Drainage Board Consortium. He explained the work of the board in managing 571km of water courses which includes silt and the general management control of water levels in conjunction with farmers, landowner’s and communities. He gave many examples of the ways this was carried out which included pumping operation, control of invasive non-native plants, flow measurement, dredging and planning.
Over the years land management has changed from the emphasis in growing food after world war 2 to the broader role of protecting the lowland areas from flooding.
Peat covers large parts of the area which means as it dries lots of ancient features have been lost as the land sinks. Three and half thousand years ago settlements and walkways- important for trading were created, built up clay mounds.
Historically the more drainage the better it was for farming making them wealthy. Glastonbury Abbey was the second wealthiest landowner after the Crown. In 1793 the Crown took over the ownership. Waterways were created not for drainage but as boundaries for land ownership. 1823 farmers wanted and paid for their land to be flooded to fertilize it.
This talk demonstrated very clearly the important wide-ranging role of the drainage board. The audience found it was a very interesting talk.