SRA powers up Bridgwater flood work

Work funded by Somerset Rivers Authority is helping to reduce the risks of flooding to homes and businesses around Bridgwater.

A co-ordinated burst of activity, delivered for Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) by the Environment Agency, has seen Stockmoor Rhyne de-silted, Hamp Brook cleared of an ugly dumped mass of rubbish and de-silted, and now Huntworth Brook is also being de-silted.

Huntworth Brook feeds the Screech Owl outfall into the River Parrett, where the SRA has also funded the installation of a powerful new pump, with remote sensing systems to trigger the pump into action. This work too has been delivered for the SRA by the Environment Agency. It is benefiting houses close to Bridgwater & Taunton Canal and several businesses, including the Argos distribution centre, the Boat & Anchor Inn, The Canalside conference centre and JJ Motors.

Cllr John Osman, SRA Chair, said: “All this work is extra work that’s only happened because of the way that Somerset Rivers Authority is set up as a partnership and funded by the people of Somerset. We can use our local knowledge, and decide to do more things locally, that improve people’s lives and businesses.

“So it’s very pleasing that the SRA was invited to a recent meeting between the Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow, Parliamentary colleagues and the Government’s minister for flooding, Dr Thérèse Coffey MP. The minister re-affirmed the Government’s commitment to introducing legislation that will put the SRA – and its extra work – on a long-term, sustainable footing. The point of the meeting was to press for progress on this. Dr Coffey also said that she would consider any proposals by Somerset MPs for alternative approaches to bringing SRA legislation before Parliament.”

The SRA-funded work being done at Huntworth rounds off a plan drawn up when Marsh Lane was first developed. As the area was known for drainage problems, mitigating flood risk reduction measures included the creation of attenuation lagoons and channel improvements going down to the Screech Owl outfall. A concrete chamber was also built for a pump, though there was no money to buy a pump. Only because of the SRA has funding now become available for the purchase and delivery of a pump – a far more effective pump than was originally envisaged – and for electricity to be brought to the site to power it.

John Rowlands of the Environment Agency (Flood & Coastal Risk Management – Wessex) said: “Being able to pump out flood water automatically from the Screech Owl outfall allows pumping to take place when required. Before, water could not pass into the River Parrett when it was experiencing high flows linked to tidal or fluvial flows. So this work will lead to a reduction in the duration of flooding near watercourses in Huntworth”.

Along Hamp Brook and Stockmoor Rhyne, the Environment Agency is funded to deliver the annual maintenance activities of weed removal and vegetation management. The extra SRA-funded maintenance means that more water can now get more quickly via Stockmoor Rhyne to Stockmoor Pumping Station for evacuation, while Hamp Brook can now discharge more water more quickly into the River Parrett between tidal cycles. In both cases, flood risks are now reduced.

John Rowlands added: “Now this work has been done, its benefits will last for much longer if people do their bit to keep these streams clean. Most of our emergency calls are for blockages caused by litter and illegal dumping of material. So please – take rubbish home or dispose of it appropriately.

“Let’s be proud of our environment and keep each other safer.”

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