Posted & filed under Blog, Events, Flood Mitigation, Videos.

Our thanks to Millie Kirkpatrick for taking this video.

A transcript of the meeting (not verbatim) can be read below…

Katy Todd – Welcome and introduction

Welcome and thank you for coming this evening and to the School for hosting this event – we’ve had wonderful support from the staff.
Tonight we will not be looking back at the devastating events of 23rd July last year or 25th June 2007 or indeed other floods, other than with the model. Tonight we are going to look forward to finding solutions to our flood problem and invite you to make known your ideas. But first a brief summary of what has been going on since we last met on 10th September.

We came together in the Minster 6 weeks after the flood; still raw, angry, grieving in some cases and demanding ‘they’ do something. ‘They’ being the authorities. We shared experiences, and the newly formed Southwell Flood Forum presented a way forward to address the long-term problem of flooding in Southwell. You embraced the Flood Forum and we took on board your views and needs, promising to do what we can to make things better. That night, instead of going straight home, many of you queued to sign up to help.

That help took many forms – from highly skilled scientific professional input, much of which has contributed to the model you’ll see later, to admin and IT, manning the help desk in the Library, developing the Community Emergency Plan, to the amazing Watercourse Clearing Team. And all sustained by volunteer refreshment providers – tea and coffee, cakes and biscuits, soup and sandwiches – everyone was, and is, so important to the cause.

… and what a team. Many of us did not know each other but we seemed to know what to do. New friendships have formed and the community, not just those of us working closely in the Forum, has, dare I say, benefited in spirit.

By Christmas, Potwell Dyke from its confluence with the Westhorpe and Intake Dumbles to the River Greet was declared more or less ‘fit for purpose’ and became much admired- although I’ve been told today that it needs a bit more attention. The Watercourse Clearing Team – a sort of ‘flying flock’ of willing volunteers, now fully equipped with tools, cones, official notices, high-viz jackets and risk assessment rules, courtesy of Newark and Sherwood District Council (NSDC), Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC), Trent Valley Internal Drainage Board (TVIDB) and Southwell Town Council (STC).
Without all their support we wouldn’t have achieved this. The volunteers work with residents and landowners across town and in the catchment areas they are now investigating local blockages and clearing ditches.
They are advised by and work with the County Council and Environment Agency. The drainage system that was once probably effective when there were far fewer houses, is being rediscovered, unearthed, reconnected, and, like Potwell Dyke, the system is being brought back to more effective purpose. It is not necessarily perfect yet – far from it. In addition NCC Highways teams and GG volunteers have cleared roadside drainage ditches and culverts and installed a substantial trash-screen on Halam Road – all works long overdue and which will help make a difference.

Ironically it is a main recommendation at the end of all reports into flooding that the infrastructure be maintained on a regular basis. It was just so in the report into the 2007 flood. But ‘we’ left it to ‘them’ and nothing but an initial token unblocking of drains and dykes was done to limit the effects of another extreme weather event.

This time there has been a magnificent and sustained effort by volunteers with support from Southwell Town Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council and a particularly effective partnership between the Forum’s Flood Alleviation Team, who are working closely with Nottinghamshire County Council, as Lead Flood Authority, in particular our Project Leader Hannah O’Callaghan and Flood Consultants URS.

Mark Bertolini – Co-Chair Southwell Flood Forum

We’ve seen the pictures of devastation and what’s happened since July 23rd 2013.
Many people attending were those who flooded, many others were nearly flooded, or are related to or know someone who was
We’ve seen how much it hurt people, emotionally and financially.
9 months on – some people have just about put it behind them – they’ve got their furniture in, carpet down, decorated.
Some people are still not back.
There are a very few whose repair work has still not started – one friend been dealing with 16 contractors, as well as working, as well as being a new grandma.
We do need to get over it, but not forget, it – we need to do something about it.

Understandably we felt angry – we shouted, ranted – some of those people on the receiving end are in the room here.
When we first approached the authorities at the beginning, it was hard for us and them to figure out who should do what.

What’s changed over the last few months is that the authorities have got engaged.
We’ve had a lot of support from lot of different authorities.
URS have built a computer model you’ll be shown tonight
We’ve made progress on the funding
We’ve made great strides – much has been achieved
We’re fortunate that we’re working together in a real partnership

But the authorities are not off the hook
In 2007 – report was written but nothing happened
We can blame whoever we like, including ourselves – it matters more to us than to other people.
We need to make sure that

  • there’s a follow -through
  • the report turns into sensible solutions
  • we get appropriate and funded solutions that are implemented, that work and are maintained.

Tonight – it matters to us – we’ve got to make sure it happens
We can all make a contribution in different ways
For some it’s determination, others it’s time, others it’s putting their hand in pocket towards overall funding
Southwell is a great place to live – this crisis has helped us understand how good a place it is. The community spirit is amazing.
People implore us to carry on and work together.
We’re pleased that Hannah was brought onto our case – she’s been brilliant.

Hannah O’Callaghan – Flood Risk Manager – Nottinghamshire County Council

Recap – Since 23rd July
There was an immediate response and immediate aftermath work
Development of a Community Emergency Plan by Southwell Flood Forum – excellent handle on details and Community Resilience work
Emergency Planning support by NCC
Support to watercourse volunteers – watercourse management – working with landowners
Investigating highways and land drainage issues

Southwell Flood Mitigation Plan
Nature of Southwell’s flooding is Flash flooding – happens very quickly – small catchment – multiple sources – overland, watercourses, complicated interactions, surface and sewer networks

It had a major impact on the community – also in 2007 and 1993, plus other events eg. 1922
Complicated in Southwell in terms of Flood Risk Management because there are so many different sources, different partners involved in project
There is a real need in this plan to co-ordinate understanding and actions to manage flood risk.

We set up a Steering group and Partnership to deliver project.
NCC is central as the Lead Flood Authority and is in a co-ordinating role. NCC doesn’t work in isolation but in a partnership of 8 organisations all with equal roles

  • NSDC – planning
  • Southwell Flood Forum – work proactively – lot of local knowledge and expertise
  • Southwell Town Council – local knowledge
  • Trent Valley IDB – land drainage
  • Environment Agency – data and expertise and advice
  • Severn Trent Water – surface water and sewage water network
  • URS – consultants for the flood study

To work together to increase the understanding of sources of flooding in Southwell, how often flooding is likely to occur, what it will affect and feasible solutions to reduce the risk of flooding from all sources of flooding

To develop a Flood mitigation plan shared and agreed by the Project partners and through engagement with the local community that will bring together information on flood risks, an assessment of flood mitigation options and an action plan setting out how feasible flood mitigation options wil be implemented

The process uses the DEFRA SWMP guidance to develop a Flood Mitigation Plan
Stage 1 – Preparation – understanding the need for a study, partnership, what study will cover. This was completed end 2013
Stage 2 – Understanding risk of flooding – Consultants, initial results of work, share with community
Stage 3 – Options appraisal – needs help from community to identify the measures which could be taken forward to reduce flood risk. Take these to the steering group with partners, to draw up a shortlist and be appraised in more detail to come up with preferred options.
Stage 4 – Implementation and review – Can’t underestimate the importance of an Action Plan – actions, timescales, monitor delivery over time.

Several reports will be produced
Under the Flood and Water Management Act, as LFA, NCC have legal responsibilities to produce a Flood Investigation Report – partnership and action plan.
Technical work – technical report by URS
Collectively informs Flood Mitigation Plan

Work to date

  • Agreed partnership input and aims and objectives – working closely with 8 partners
  • Identifying, collecting and collating data from wide range of different organisations. Critical role of local community and Southwell Flood Forum of collecting data at a very local level to make model more accurate
  • Site visits and developing flood model – to be shown shortly
  • Initial options identification – Southwell Flood Forum stand tonight – initial suggestions
  • Identification of potential funding sources for alleviation work

‘Quick wins’ to reduce flood risk
Not all mitigation is long-term work
We’ve been identifying short-term work that can be done very quickly
Halloughton Road – wall gave way – we worked with the landowner to replace with railings to make water pass more safely
Halam Road – replace trash screen to get water away from road into culvert into storage pond away from housing.

Action Plan brings everything together
Includes longer-term solutions
Emergency preparedness – work is being done to help increase Community Resilience
Maintaining watercourses – watercourse volunteers, watercourse management
Property level protection – encourage residents to install
Southwell flood alleviation scheme – includes both catchments – Halam Hill and Potwell Dyke – a collective scheme through SFMP

Focus of this evening
Share some of the initial model results
Refine Flood study
Consider future flood mitigation options, receive suggestions for mitigation, sources of funding
Critical opportunity to ask questions and offer input into SFMP via the NCC feedback form
Direct your input to NCC or via SFF

Next steps
Completing the technical work – July 2014
Overall SFMP plan by summer 2014
Get input from local community to refine the flood modelling and short-list/run different scenarios, model and appraise different mitigation options
Then draw up the Action Plan

Flood modelling
Liz of URS will be presenting the model showing early and indicative results for July 2013 which needs refining with community input
Criticality in terms of flood return period has not yet been resolved
Different to maps on Environment Agency website – based on more detailed and local information

Liz Young -URS

We will be showing Initial outputs from the Flood Model

Modelling Approach
At the start, we were told there were complicated flooding mechanisms

  • Watercourses
  • Surface water runoff
  • Sewer network

Complex interactions were evident during other events as well
We realised there was a need for an integrated approach to represent flooding in the best possible way

In terms of modelling, it’s not final – it’s a 2-way exchange
Local knowledge is essential to update what we’ve been doing and feed into the model

There is a lot of data to work with
A key element is the topographical information
It’s important to delineate the extent of the modelling and investigate different flooding mechanisms
It’s interesting to note the different elevations – how much the elevations change from headwaters of watercourses down to the lower areas. It’s a steep profile particularly on Potwell Dyke.

Using topography, we identified contributing areas to the watercourses – also referred to as a catchment area
Used software to identify overland flow paths which are not necessarily watercourses, but rather the areas where water will flow to and accumulate and eventually discharge into watercourses.
Using this information we also split the town into different catchments
Potwell Dyke – i.e. rainfall ultimately ends up in PD, which includes small catchments which drain into PD
Halam Hill
Another small area in north which discharges into watercourses in that area

Hydraulic modelling
Identify risks from watercourses of run-off of rainfall and account for the conveyance of water in the sewer network
Provisional outputs are based on rainfall data for July 2013
Indicative extents and maximum depths that the model is showing in its current state
The model doesn’t show shallow water of less 10cm otherwise it would all look blue because rain falls everywhere!
Purpose of the model is to identify main flow routes

Initial outputs look promising – we’re picking up most of the flowpaths and mechanisms of flooding

Static maps showing maximum depths
1) Potwell Dyke watercourse and areas around that
The model is identifying constrictions to flow e.g. series of culverts under or near Nottingham Road area
The model is picking up those constrictions and the impact of those constrictions on flooding is being demonstrated by the outputs
Church street – upstream area in and around the bridge is significantly flooded on model – reflects what happened
Out of bank flows downstream of Church st
Flowpaths along Nottingham Road towards Leisure Centre
Halloughton Road – presence of the wall as it was rather than as it is now to make sure we represent that appropriately

More confident in Potwell Dyke than Halam Hill at the moment, still working on HH particularly in relation to balancing pond and mechanisms of flooding in and around that area.
We are picking up some flowroutes between Halam Road and Kirklington Road area and deep ponding between Lower Kirklington Road and Southwell Trail

Animation of model in its current state
Model shows the progression of water throughout July 2013 event – (deepest is yellow, red is shallower, rest is blue)
Ten hour period – (no timer showing on animation) progression of floodwater through catchment.

Shows ponding between LKR and trail.
We need more feedback on timings in HH area.- not getting the timing quite right at the moment. We need depth, timing of peak water depth etc. to get the main flooding mechanisms in the area.
Want to continue to work on and refine from your local knowledge.

Katy Todd – Southwell Flood Fund

Southwell is not the only place where flooding is a serious issue. Flood mitigation measures are costly and will not be met wholly from public sources. Public funds across the country are reducing just as demand for spending on flood mitigation is at its highest. Some of the funding will therefore have to be found from within our community – Bruce will tell you more about this in a minute and we will need to demonstrate our willingness to help ourselves with a contribution towards the costs.

We have established a Flood Fund. This is managed on our behalf by the Nottinghamshire Community Foundation (NCF). I can tell you more about NCF if you’re interested. It will work by creating a fund within NCF, from which grants can be made on behalf of our community as and when they are required, to meet our contribution to matched funding for alleviation schemes.
The Southwell Flood Fund will be used to contribute to the funding of flood defence and mitigation measures only within the area covered by Southwell Flood Forum. Although it’s in a big Nottinghamshire ‘pot’, it won’t be going to other communities.

We need to be able to afford to insure our homes and our possessions. If we want to be able to sell our house – take up a new job, down-size, move to be nearer the children in our old age. If we don’t want to be anxious every time it rains, we have to be prepared to help ourselves to make where we live a more secure and flood resilient environment. This involves taking preventative measures such as making sure the dykes, ditches and drains are in working order. We have to have sound infrastructure and engineered schemes. Without these we will remain at risk from flood when ever there is an extreme weather event.

On your chair is a fundraising leaflet please do take it home with you and give some thought as to how you can help. Do get in touch if you would like to talk about making a donation or if you have a fundraising idea. The Flood Fund can benefit from an additional 25p in every £1 if you are a UK tax-payer and complete a Gift Aid form – there is a GA form with the information you received when you arrived. Full details are included in the leaflet.

Bruce Laughton

County Councillor, Environment Agency representative on the Trent Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (TRFCC) which oversees capital projects on behalf of Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

It’s an important committee responsible for flooding in the Trent region.
I am also Chair of the Stakeholder/Steering group of all the interested local bodies involved with reference to flooding.
I would like to welcome Tim Farr here tonight who is Chair of TRFCC.
There have been pledges from Southwell Town Council, Newark and Sherwood District Council and Nottinghamshire County Council.

NCC funding pledge is the largest and most important – in the region of £0.5M – which will go a long way for us to be able to influence the funding processes as far as DEFRA is concerned.
The funding is based on the number of houses that benefit from any capital schemes that are likely to come out of the plan that URS, Hannah and Forum members are working on
It also takes into account our ability to be able to raise funds.
Any outside funding that we can bring into the scheme will have a considerable benefit on our ability to be able to deliver any capital projects because it improves our score in the funding bid.

Funding for flood alleviation
Based on a partnership funding policy.
National Grant in Aid funding is based on the benefits a scheme delivers
Others sources make up any gap in funding and also increase a ‘partnership funding’ score that increase priority nationally.
On 21st March 2014 NCC submitted a bid with timescales.
Flood alleviation scheme will cost £1.875m which is very nearly fully funded apart from a shortfall of between £150K and £200K which will need to be raised from local community and other sources.
Possible start 2017/8 of mitigation measures work.

Next milestone
24th April NCC Transport and Highways Committee will present a paper asking to cement the contribution to our community and 3 other schemes in the County.
Thanks to Steve Calvert who has supported the work. Steve is Vice Chair of the NCC committee and Bruce will speak on Southwell’s behalf.
June 18th – TRFCC will finalise the programme for next 6 years in a closed session.

Peter Harris – Commitment from Southwell Town Coucil

As we’ve seen, we don’t have the scheme yet to prevent any future floods and that’s one of the challenges that we face but the Town Council felt that it was important that some money was put into the funds straightaway. So we took a unanimous decision that we would levy, via the precept for a flood fund this year to raise £40K.

We don’t have a large budget as a Town Council – it’s under £150K a year, so it is a significant increase in your precept. It has gone up 39% and that is specifically so that we can put some money together and show that commitment from this town. It is a 1 year commitment and we are anticipating that it can be taken forward in the next 2 years so that a sum of money can be put together.

We don’t raise a lot of money as a town but it does mean that mean that every household this year will be paying an extra £12 or £13 a year right across the town- last year our precept was £51.72 – this year it’s £70.99 for D band.

We hope you will support this; we hope you will continue to put pressure on us to maintain this commitment specifically for flood funding.

Questions and answers

Thanks to everyone involved and to the audience.