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Flood risk management work in Somerset

Somerset Rivers Authority’s purpose is to provide an extra level of flood protection for families and communities across the whole of Somerset. 

Somerset Rivers Authority plans for 2017-18 prioritise extra maintenance to rivers, roads and structures, such as pumping stations, as existing funding is not enough to cover the county’s needs. 

Around £2.4m raised through council tax in 2017-18 will be spent on a wide range of activities across Somerset that focus on reducing the severity and impact of all types of flooding. 

This page outlines:

  • The Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) Enhanced Programme of works for 2017-18, funded by council tax and contributions from Somerset’s Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs)
  • SRA major projects funded by Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal money
  • Map of SRA activities 2017-18
  • Flood risk management works carried out by other organisations in Somerset, known as the Somerset Common Works Programme
  • Somerset's 20 Year Flood Action Plan and SRA workstreams

This page also offers some links to more detailed descriptions of the above subjects and chances to download PDFs. Alternatively, explore the headings in the sidebar (which are below if you’re on a mobile).

SRA Half Year Progress Report 2017-18

The newly published Somerset Rivers Authority's Half Year Progress Report 2017-18 describes progress made between April and September 2017 on key projects and numerous activities across the county.

Please click here to view the report.

SRA Enhanced Programme 2017-18, funded by council tax and contributions from Somerset’s IDBs

Somerset Rivers Authority provides a higher standard of flood risk management than is affordable from the existing budgets of Somerset’s flood risk management authorities.

As in 2016/17, the SRA’s 2017/18 programme focuses heavily on providing extra maintenance as existing funding streams are insufficient to cover this important need. 

The programme proposes:  

  • £2.4m for 23 schemes (with hundreds of different activities and elements)
  • £150k towards the major Sowy/King’s Sedgemoor Drain project
  • £200k on four SRA staff and overheads, to support both this programme and the delivery of HotSWLEP Growth Deal-funded SRA projects (totalling £3.6m). This is 3% of the year’s total budget.

Click to download a PDF about Somerset Rivers Authority’s Enhanced Programme for 2017-18.

What extra maintenance work will be done?

Twenty-three sets of work are proposed across Somerset. 

Dredging and de-silting. The SRA will provide:

  • maintenance dredging of the rivers Parrett and Tone and monitoring of silt build-up
  • extra de-silting of smaller river channels and rhynes (ditches)
  • extra de-silting under bridges (11 locations planned, across all districts)
  • the repair and removal of blockages from an extra 700 culverts across the county

West Somerset Streams (Doniford Stream, Horner Water, Traphole Stream, and Washford River) and West Sedgemoor and Aller Moor rhynes will continue to benefit from annual as opposed to bi-annual maintenance. 

The SRA will fund normally unfundable repairs so as to maintain flood risk management assets in Mendip (for example, river revetment repairs in Frome will help to protect 300 properties) and across Sedgemoor. 

Extra CCTV surveys of drainage systems countywide will provide the accurate knowledge that enables requests to riparian owners to remedy problems - and/or enforcement.

To reduce local flooding of highways, particularly in rural areas, the SRA will provide more frequent gully emptying and preventative jetting than is usually affordable, plus road sweeping, in areas most susceptible to flooding. 

The SRA will also provide development funding for a major scheme to store water above Taunton, improve Taunton town centre flood defences, and investigate further options at places such as French and Firepool weirs and Bathpool. The whole scheme is a crucial component of the pioneering Taunton Garden Town initiative. It will allow 4,350 new homes and 10,000 new jobs to be safely brought forward and protect existing properties and businesses. 

The SRA will part-fund a demonstration project to retrofit a sustainable urban drainage system into retail parking/industrial estate in the Tone and/or Parrett catchments. Other funding for this SuDS project comes from the EU and is unaffected by Brexit negotiations. 

In addition, the SRA will continue its investment in supporting communities becoming more resilient to flooding and its impacts with a revamped programme of projects and initiatives. This will involve working with communities, households, businesses, and landowners to assist them in preparing and adapting in order to reduce their vulnerability to future flooding.

What capital schemes will Somerset Rivers Authority support?

Recognising the importance of slowing the flow in the upper catchment and reducing run-off in urban areas, the SRA will provide advice and support to communities and landowners for natural flood management. Investigations will continue into whether better land management could help to solve highway flooding problems (107 sites were investigated in 2016-17, including 50 in West Somerset). In a new initiative, advisory farm visits will seek to increase the uptake of soil management techniques and cropping changes that improve the infiltration of water and reduce run-off. 

Five schemes will reduce flooding on highways on:

  • the A38 at both Chelston and Rumwell (where the drainage system is 90+ years old and needs improvements)
  • the A372 at Huish Episcopi (re-designed drainage system at Pibsbury Corner)
  • Stoke sub Hamdon (upgrades at East Stoke)
  • Lower Bilbrook (drainage improvements to stop hamlet being cut off)


Pumping station improvements at Westonzoyland (doubling pump capacity) and West Sedgemoor (new trash screen with automatic clearing machinery)

Improvements to 240 failing water level control structures, to build and maintain the resilience to flooding of wet grassland upstream of Langport, and bring extra benefits to farming and wildlife for the next 20-30 years. New infrastructure and land management will better manage flood water and seasonal water levels.

Major SRA projects funded by Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal money

Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership logo

HM Government logo to accompany HotSWLEP logo

Five major projects funded by Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSWLEP) Growth Deal money also form part of the SRA’s plans for 2017-18. SRA major projects tend to be longer-term works, stretching out towards 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

  • The development of a dredging strategy
  • River Sowy / King’s Sedgemoor Drain (KSD) enhancements
  • Development work on the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier
  • Dredging selected stretches of the Brue
  • ‘Slow the Flow’ natural flood management schemes (carrying on the work begun with the Hills to Levels project)

A map of SRA activities in 2017-18

The SRA has produced a large map showing the location of all activities currently proposed for 2017-18: click to download a PDF of map showing SRA Enhanced Programme works in 2017-2018. Tip: use this map with a PDF of the SRA’s 2017-18 Enhanced Programme to get the most from it. Major projects funded by Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSWLEP) Growth Deal money are coded in the map as GD.

Detail from map of Somerset Rivers Authority 2017-18 Enhanced Programme

The above image shows only part of the map, for reasons of space. SRA works are planned for 2017-18 in all of Somerset’s five districts, whose boundaries are marked in black – except for Sedgemoor in dark blue.

What flood risk management works are carried out by other organisations in Somerset, in the Somerset Common Works Programme 2017-18?

Other flood risk management authorities at work in Somerset are the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Internal Drainage Boards, Wessex Water, Somerset County Council (the Lead Local Flood Authority), and the five district councils of South Somerset District Council, Mendip District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Sedgemoor District Council and West Somerset Council.

In addition, work will be done by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group SW (FWAG SW) to round off the part of the Hills to Levels project which was funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and led by the Royal Bath & West Society in a partnership including the RSPB and Somerset Wildlife Trust.

Involvement with the SRA means that work can be co-ordinated to ensure that organisations’ collective experience and knowledge benefits Somerset’s flood risk management.

The Somerset Common Works Programme (CWP) lists, in one place, all the flood risk management activities funded by Flood Risk Management Authorities and other organisations across Somerset, with the exception of the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA).

SRA works are not included because they are additional to the schemes and projects in the CWP.

Here you can download a PDF describing actions in the Somerset Common Works Programme 2017-18 and download a map showing the locations of schemes and projects in the CWP for 2017-18. The PDF and map are designed to be used together.

Somerset is the only county in the UK where all such information is made publicly available in one place.

A short user’s guide to the Common Works Programme 2017-18

The PDF of the Common Works Programme (CWP) tells you which authority or organisation is doing works, and in which districts and parishes. Each scheme has been given a code, and the map uses that code to help indicate a scheme’s location.

The CWP PDF gives a brief description of schemes, and tells you more about how they are being paid for.

All projects in the CWP are funded through the different organisations’ existing budgets, but money flows into those budgets from various sources. 

For example, in the case of the Environment Agency, some schemes are funded through national government via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), some through the local levy that is raised by the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee from Lead Local Flood Authorities in its area (Somerset’s Lead Local Flood Authority is Somerset County Council). 

As can be seen from studying the CWP, Somerset Rivers Authority does not detract from the responsibilities of different authorities and organisations (or, indeed, those of the owners of rivers and watercourses). Existing Flood Risk Management Authorities and their existing associated funding streams, responsibilities and accountabilities continue, but everyone involved with the SRA and Somerset’s CWP seeks to achieve even more by working together.

Somerset’s 20 Year Flood Action Plan

Somerset Rivers Authority oversees all the work being done as part of Somerset’s 20 Year Flood Action Plan. The overarching aim of the plan is to reduce the frequency, duration and severity of flooding.

Numerous different bodies are responsible for funding or carrying out activities, including Government departments, quangos, charities, local authorities and Drainage Boards.

Work is organised into five main themes:

  • River Management including dredging
  • Land Management including natural flood management activities
  • Urban Water Management including Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes, planning and enforcement
  • Resilient Infrastructure including maintenance of highways drainage systems
  • Building Local Resilience, giving inspiration, support, advice, information and practical help to communities, households, businesses, and landowners across Somerset to encourage and enable them to become more resilient and resistant to the impacts of flooding

Click to find out more about the Flood Action Plan or follow the link in the right sidebar (below if you’re on a mobile). To download PDFs, please click on the links below:
Executive summary of the 20 Year Flood Action Plan

Full 20 Year Flood Action Plan

Following Flood Action Plan reviews, a Water Level Management Plan Assessment was produced in October 2014 to assess the impact of water level management on flooding.

If you would like to get in touch please contact us at sra@somerset.gov.uk or tel: 01823 355111
The Flood Action Plan is now overseen by the Somerset Rivers Authority and can be contacted on the above.