An investigation has begun into what lies beneath the bed of the River Parrett near Express Park in Bridgwater.
The aim is to work out the best ways of building a Bridgwater Tidal Barrier at this site.
A Tidal Barrier will help to protect 11,300 homes and 1,500 businesses. It will cost an estimated £100million, but deliver benefits valued at £1,331 million.
The project is being led by Sedgemoor District Council and the Environment Agency. It is backed by Somerset Rivers Authority, using Growth Deals funding from Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.
Bridgwater Tidal Barrier is expected to become operational from 2024.
A jack-up barge has been temporarily embedded in the River Parrett as a base for investigating local layers of soil and rock, and groundwater. Checks will also be carried out for any historic contamination.
Information gathered will be used to help select the best techniques for building a Barrier.
The barge now in the Parrett has long support legs that can be raised or lowered. This flexibility is vital for keeping a working platform above the surface of the river, through its changing tides.
Works in the river are expected to finish by the end of the year.
Images below: the assembled barge at Dunball Wharf, and a closer view of it installed along the River Parrett near Express Park in Bridgwater.