As part of its wider £5m flood mitigation proposals, Nottinghamshire County Council has reached the final stages of securing a contractor to undertake the work needed to make sure that homes in Southwell which are most vulnerable to future flooding are as well-protected as possible.
This follows extensive investigations across the town which found that 145 individual properties which remain at risk of flooding could benefit from protective measures.
Following a meeting of the council’s Communities and Place Committee earlier today (Thursday, 4 April) when members were updated on the progress being made with the Southwell Flood Mitigation Scheme, its vice-chairman Councillor Phil Rostance said: “We have seen first-hand how flooding devastates communities and Southwell has suffered repeated, extensive flooding. The combination of engineering, natural flood management, and individual property protection measures, as well as building self-resilience, will help safeguard the community from future incidents.
“I am delighted with the progress being made which will be reassuring for residents most at risk from future flooding – the most vulnerable in the community will be our priority and we will continue to work with partners to develop scheme options and keep the lines of communication open with all of those involved.”
In July 2013, Southwell was subjected to intense rainfall that overwhelmed the drainage system and resulted in a number of properties being flooded throughout the town.
In response to this, Nottinghamshire County Council secured joint funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to help make selected homes more resilient to surface water flooding in the future.
The types of protective measures that could be installed at the selected homes include flood resilient doors, smart airbricks (that close up with rising flood waters) and non-return valves in plumbing systems to prevent water backing up through the sewage system.
In addition to this, other work could include repointing mortar that is damaged or missing, painting a waterproofing solution onto external brickwork at ground level, or carrying out local landscaping, if possible, to divert or safely retain flood waters.
Depending on the outcome of the tender, work could start this month and would be expected to last eight months.
As well as measures to protect individual properties, the county council has commissioned Via East Midlands to design and deliver five engineered schemes which will help alleviate flooding in the town. Details are currently being developed and three of these should be complete by the end of this year with the others set to be in place by autumn 2021.
The county council is also working with the Southwell Flood Forum, Trent Rivers Trust and the National Flood Forum and many other partners to install natural flood management (NFM) features on land upstream of Southwell to help improve the town’s overall flood defences.
“Last month, for example, I saw first-hand how natural flood management techniques are helping improve Southwell’s overall flood defences,” added Coun Rostance. “This is a scheme which is a real partnership with experts from Trent Rivers Trust and National Flood Forum leading this work on our behalf.”
This work, worth £230,000, is part funded through the county council and the European Regional Development Fund. So far 10 landowners in the area have benefited from having features such as ponds and trees installed to help store, absorb or slow down flood water and more work is planned.
Coun Rostance said: “Receiving the level of funding we did for the NFM project is rare with many similar projects from other authorities being unsuccessful.
“We expect this sustainable approach to complement the harder engineering solutions.”
As part of the NFM scheme, partners at the National Flood Forum have identified five initial areas to increase the flood resilience knowledge in the Southwell community.
• Training existing groups and volunteers in closing roads and tools for monitoring water levels
• Improving owner awareness of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to practically managing watercourses on their land; and
• Working with schools to raise awareness of the need to involve people in managing their water – at Lowes Wong School, for example, where there have historically been surface water run-off issues, installation of a special drainage system is being explored.
More than 50 Southwell residents attended a free community event at the town’s library last night (Wednesday) to hear more about NFM plans.
The County Council has also been shortlisted for the Flood & Coast Project Excellence Awards 2019. Its entry in the community partnership category focused on the approaches it has used that look at reducing the risk of flooding through assisting, motivating and empowering communities across Nottinghamshire to enable them to become self-resilient.