Somerset natural flood management videos
New videos show a range of natural flood management techniques being used across Somerset to help 'slow the flow' of water.
Seven short films have been produced so far, fronted by specialists from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG SW), with contributions from Somerset Rivers Authority, farmers, landowners and contractors.
The videos show work being done as part of the Hills to Levels project, which is backed by Somerset Rivers Authority using Growth Deal money from the Heart of the SW Local Enterprise Partnership. With funding from players of People's Postcode Lottery, Hills to Levels also involves the Royal Bath & West of England Society, the RSPB, FWAG SW and Somerset Wildlife Trust.
One aim is to inspire people across Somerset to see what they could do. As the Brompton Ralph farmer John Elliott says in the Leaky Pond video: "After seeing the floods and the devastation on the Levels a couple of years ago I thought that anything I could do to help this project along would be worthwhile, so I just think it's an excellent project. If it helps in a small way to the greater project I shall be very pleased."
A further aim is to inspire people beyond Somerset, by clearly demonstrating methods that could be used elsewhere as part of a programme of flood risk management works.
It is hoped the completed series of videos will provide a comprehensive guide to techniques of natural flood management that are becoming increasingly popular. The seven videos so far cover filter soxx, woody dams, woodland planting, leaky ponds, riverbank stabilisation, floodplain storage, and re-connecting floodplains.
Filter soxx are used to intercept water flow pathways in fields, particularly in areas where this causes problems such as roads flooding. Run-off - likely to be carrying soil with it - is slowed down, allowing sediment to settle and be kept within a field. This video features Natural England's Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer Roy Hayes, who is on secondment to FWAG SW for natural flood management work.
Woody Dams This video shows a woody dam being created in the hills above Corfe, south of Taunton, attracting lots of media attention in the process. This video is presented by Ben Thorne, senior farm conservation adviser at FWAG SW and leader of Somerset Rivers Authority's land management workstream.
In times of heavy rainfall, higher up in river catchments, trees help soak up groundwater and prevent excessive water run-off. This video shows a plantation created on Lord Cameron's Dillington estate in South Somerset. It features John Osman, Chair of Somerset Rivers Authority, Lord Cameron and Ben Thorne, senior farm conservation adviser at FWAG SW and leader of Somerset Rivers Authority's land management workstream.
Leaky Pond In times of flooding, it is important to store as much water as possible, safely, higher up in a river's catchment. This scheme at Brompton Ralph in West Somerset, installed in the valley of a steeply sloping field, features a dug out pond, outlet pipe with different flow characteristics, and a bund to allow farm machinery to cross. The video is presented by Joanna Uglow, a resource protection adviser with FWAG SW, and features farmer John Elliott.
Riverbank stabilisation Fast-flowing rivers can quickly cause problems for landowners. In the example shown in this video, the River Isle in Somerset was eating into a farmer's field. Rock rolls were therefore installed to firm up the riverbank, stopping erosion at these points. A welcome knock-on effect is that soil is no longer carried with the water, so there is less chance of deposits building up in culverts, and less of a requirement to dredge rivers downstream. This video is presented by Joanna Uglow, a resource protection adviser with FWAG SW.
Floodplain storage When river levels rise at this site in Somerset, flood water can be stored in an area of land which has been scraped. A raised bank, or bund, holds the floodwater in, and helps to prevent further flooding downstream in, for example, the Somerset Levels. This video is presented by Joanna Uglow, a resource protection adviser with FWAG SW, and features contractor James Hector of Natural Engineering Solutions.
LiDAR (Light Detection & Ranging) data is being collected in order to establish the whereabouts of old floodplains, in order to reconnect them. This data allows the ground to be mapped in 3D. This video shows a channel which has been dug out to allow a rising river to flow into a field, storing huge amounts of floodwater. The video is presented by Joanna Uglow, a resource protection adviser with FWAG SW.
(Click to read more about how LiDAR data is used to help build up flood risk knowledge).