Identify and arrange the different methods used to manage the River Tees under the headings hard and soft engineering strategies. Which one dominates - hard or soft?  Explain why.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In order to answer this question, we must first think about what hard and soft engineering approaches to river management are.  Hard engineering methods are the traditional methods that seek to greatly change the look and behavior of the river.  They tend to be more expensive and to have more of an impact on the river.  By contrast, soft engineering methods are newer and more sensitive to the environment.  They cost less and they attempt to reduce the ecological impact of flood control.

With this definition in mind, let us now look at the methods being used on the River Tees.  Some of the hard engineering methods of managing this river include:

  • Building the Cow Green reservoir. 
  • Reinforced concrete walls and earthen embankments.
  • Cutting off the meander near Stockton.
  • Dredging of the Tees Estuary.
  • Building of the Tees Barrage.

All of these are very high impact engineering methods.  They are large and expensive and they greatly alter the nature of the river. 

There are only a very few soft engineering options that have been used in managing this river.  They include the use of gabion baskets and replanting of vegetation which, along with the building of fishing platforms, is meant to reduce impact on the environment.  The use of approved building materials is aesthetically pleasing, but does not really count as a soft engineering method.

From these lists, you can clearly see that hard engineering dominates the approaches that are being taken to manage the River Tees.

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