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River flooding and management issues

MEDC case study: causes and effects of flooding in Boscastle, UK (2004)


  • Over 60 mm of rainfall (typically a month's rainfall) fell in two hours.
  • The ground was already saturated due to the previous two weeks of above average rainfall.
  • The drainage basin has many steep slopes, and has areas of impermeableimpermeable: not allowing water to pass through slate causing rapid surface run-offsurface run-off: The water that runs over the surface of the land when the soil is unable to absorb it..
  • Boscastle is at the confluence (where tributaries meet) of three rivers - Valency, Jordan, and Paradise. A large quantity of water all arrived within a short space of time causing the rivers to overflow.
  • The flooding coincided with a high tide, making the impact worse.


  • Homes, businesses and cars belonging to more than 1,000 people were swept away.
  • Income from tourism was lost. This had an impact on livelihoods and the local economy.
  • There were vast numbers of subsequent insurance claims.
  • No lives were lost, partly due to the rapid response of the emergency services.

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