This is a briefing prepared on Monday 6 November by local Environment Agency officers, about temporary pumps being installed at Currymoor, Saltmoor and Northmoor and the current situation in the Axe-Brue catchment and the Parrett-Tone catchment. October was very wet, and so was the start of November, but today, overall, the picture has been improving and pumps have been operating at several locations.
This briefing mostly describes Environment Agency actions, but scroll down, and it also includes some news about two public events in December. These are being organised by the Environment Agency with Somerset Council and Somerset Rivers Authority.
The Environment Agency is a partner in Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA), along with Somerset Council, the Parrett and Axe Brue Internal Drainage Boards, Natural England, the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and Wessex Water.
Over the weekend, there were periods of heavy rainfall and showers in Wessex, with significant totals in isolated areas of Dorset and South Somerset. There were some impacts on highway networks, notably the A303, which was closed due to surface water flooding. However, we have seen an overall improving picture in the weather, and although isolated showers have continued, river levels have mainly been dropping or have stabilised throughout Wessex.
Many of the moors in Somerset are very wet, as is normal in the winter. As residents of the area are well aware, the natural geography of the area (75% is 6m below mean tide level) means that flooding of fields in the winter is a routine occurrence. For the benefit of those less familiar with how the Somerset Levels and Moors work, see www.somersetriversauthority.org.uk/how-the-somerset-moors-work.
However, in 2023 we have had a very wet autumn, with the Wessex area receiving double the normal amount of rain for October (194% long term average). November has also started wet, with areas of Wessex already receiving up to 90% of the average monthly rainfall total. Catchments across Wessex are very responsive to further rainfall. That is why we [= the Environment Agency] took action when the trigger levels for Northmoor, Saltmoor and Currymoor were met last week.
Somerset Council Highways have closed Cutts Road, New Road, and Langport Road using the emergency road closure gates. For up-to-date information please see the Somerset Council website.
There will be a temporary road closure tonight (6th November) from 6.30pm overnight on Huntworth Lane, for installation of a pump at Elson’s Clyce, with a diversion in place.
We apologise for the short notice but we are taking the operational opportunity to install this pump in advance of any further wet weather coming later this week. We thank residents for their understanding and will keep road closure times to a minimum. There will be a diversion in place.
Axe / Brue Catchment
Some minor low-lying roads, notably around Godney, have been affected by flooding, but levels are receding across the catchment. In agreement with our partners, we have been running enhanced pumping at Gold Corner in order to draw water through the catchment and reduce levels in the moors around Glastonbury.
Parrett / Tone Catchment – Upstream of Langport
We are closely monitoring levels across the whole of the Somerset Levels and Moors. There is still significant capacity in the moors around Langport, and the level in the River Parrett has dropped significantly. This has meant we have been able to resume pumping at Huish Episcopi, Westover, Midelney and Long Load pumping stations. We are making the most of this drier spell of weather to maximise opportunities to evacuate water from the moors while river levels allow.
Allermoor spillway has stopped running, and Monksleaze Clyce continues to be opened to divert flows down the Parrett Flood Relief Channel (Sowy).
Parrett / Tone Catchment – Downstream of Langport
A Flood Warning remains active for Curry Moor and Stan Moor. There is still significant capacity in Currymoor, and levels are now stable. Levels in the River Tone have dropped enough that Hookbridge spillway has stopped running. This is good news as it has allowed pumping to start at Currymoor pumping station today.
Field teams have been working over the weekend installing additional pumps at Currymoor and Saltmoor, which are expected to be online today. Staff have also been undertaking preliminary works at Northmoor pumping station ready for temporary pump deployment as required.
As mentioned, we will be installing an additional pump at Elson’s Clyce on Huntworth Road tonight. This does mean we will need to put in place a temporary road closure from 6.30pm overnight with a small diversion in place.
Additional pumps can only be used when there is sufficient water at the pumping locations and enough room in the main channels to receive the flood water. Currently, levels are within the capacity of the permanent pumps at both Saltmoor and Northmoor.
Public engagement events
As we reported in the last briefing, we are planning two events in December for Somerset Levels & Moors residents. Residents will also have the opportunity to speak with Environment Agency partners including Somerset Rivers Authority and Somerset Council. These events will be held at:
- Burrowbridge Coronation Hall – Tuesday 5th December 2023 from 5pm to 7pm
- Moorland Village Hall – Thursday 7th December 2023 from 5pm to 7pm
Throughout today and tomorrow some scattered showers will be seen across the patch, but these are unlikely to cause further impacts, as the river levels are falling. More rain is expected into Wednesday and Thursday, although there is still uncertainty over the rainfall totals and the track of the band of rain. With the catchments saturated this will be monitored closely to ensure our incident response teams are able to respond to any impacts this might have.
What happens next?
As we reported in our last two briefings, we have done a great deal of work to prepare for this winter. We continue to monitor the level of risk and act accordingly.
We appreciate that the wet weather can cause significant anxiety for those who have been affected by flooding in the past. Please be assured that we are carrying out these actions to err on the side of caution and to ensure that we are in the best position possible if the unsettled weather continues.
We will continue to send out updates, as necessary, to keep Somerset Levels and Moors residents and our partners informed on the situation and how we are responding.
Flooding advice and information
Our advice to the public is to stay safe and not enter floodwater – just 30 cm of fast flowing water can move a car, and just 15 cm of fast flowing water could be enough to knock you off your feet. Motorists should avoid driving through flood water as the bow wave can damage homes and car engines.
Call Floodline on 0345 988 1188 for updates on flooding, to sign up for flood warnings, or to report flooding.
Go to gov.uk/prepare-for-flooding or search ‘know my flood risk’ to sign up for Environment Agency flood warnings, receive information on the risk in your area and what to do in a flood.
Sign up for flood warnings at gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings
Visit the Environment Agency website gov.uk/environment-agency which contains information on current river levels and flooding
Follow us on social media: facebook.com/environmentagencywessex
Or visit: www.somersetriversauthority.org.uk
Prepare for flooding in advance and stay up-to-date on weather information and warnings: https://check-for-flooding.service.gov.uk/plan-ahead-for-flooding
What to do during a flood
Get information on what to do during a flood from:
Remember: Always stay safe. In an immediate flood emergency or where there is a risk to life, follow the advice of the emergency services.
For all enquiries, or if you would like to be added to the distribution list for Somerset Levels and Moors updates, please email WessexEnquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk