It has been a tough, expensive and depressing winter for Welsh farmers after weeks of heavy rain and damaging storms.

The rain, unrelenting for what seemed an eternity, finally stopped falling in January but not before nature had made her presence felt with the wettest 48 hours of the winter, submerging fields and farmyards across Wales and destroying winter-sown crops as swollen watercourses spilled over, full to capacity and unable to store any more water.

In years gone by our rivers were regularly dredged to remove the build-ups of gravel and silt that gets washed downstream but that practice was stopped for cost reasons and to protect habitats.

Until then, river management was always seen as routine and not only did it protect farmland but it helped prevent flooding in our towns and villages.

Despite promises made during each catastrophic flooding event, governments have failed to get to grips with the challenge of managing watercourses and flooding.

Years ago drainage boards, which were mostly run by farmers, took care of the rivers and drains on a local basis.

Managing these now falls within the remit of local authorities and Natural Resources Wales who farmers argue don’t have the same level of knowledge as they do of local drainage issues.

The majority of rivers haven’t been dredged for decades so they don’t have the capacity to carry the increased flow resulting from housing development in combination with heavy rainfall events.

Dredging is not a standalone solution to flood prevention – recent flooding has surely taught us that building on flood plains is in itself deeply irresponsible – but is nonetheless an important intervention.

Wetter future winters are a consistent projection in UK-focused climate models, with some predicting a 30-35% increase in rain by 2070.

With that in mind the whole issue of dredging needs to be reconsidered or the flooding we have seen in recent weeks will become a regular, costly and distressing feature.