Muddy Flooding on the South Downs

28 September 2005

A post event assesment of flooding that affected parts of the South Downs, East Sussex, England in Autumn 2000 is presented. The floods were of the 'muddy' variety related to soil erosion from agricultural land rather than 'clear' riverine floods. Between September and December 2000, inundation of property and infrastructure by muddy floodwater occurred several times in various suburbs of Brighton, causing damage from sediment deposition costing millions of pounds. Some inaccurate, but well publicized reports by the news media attributed blame to unprecedented autumn rainfall brought about through climatic change or 'global warming'. However, whilst climatological data shows record rainfall totals for the South Downs in Autumn 2000, daily and monthly rainfall totals were unexceptional. This study aims to assess the causes and contexts under which the South Downs flooding of autumn 2000 took place and to suggest strategies for managing similar events in the future.