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A little bit of Dutch courage for the Levels

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 14, 2014

  • Specialist pumps have been brought to Somerset from the Netherlands, main image, while Ross on Wye, above inset and Gloucester, below are also suffering

  • Marines from 40 Commando help put out sandbags in Westend Parade in Gloucester – together with Worcester, it's the first city to be hit by flooding

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Two high-volume pumps imported from the Netherlands have started work to try to reduce the water levels on the flooded Somerset Levels.

The Dutch equipment has been installed at Dunball, north of Bridgwater, to pump water from the most saturated parts of the Levels into the River Parrett and out to sea.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the scheme would reduce the flood risk in the villages of Northmoor and Saltmoor by reducing the water levels on the River Tone.

Some parts of the Levels have been flooded since Christmas and the rising water has caused dozens of homes to flood, closed roads, cut off villages and disrupted rail services.

Two of the 13 high-capacity Dutch pumps have been located at Dunball while others have been installed in Beerwall.

In total the EA has 96 pumps in use and is currently pumping from the Levels enough water daily to fill Wembley Stadium three times.

But it has warned there is a continued high risk of flooding into the weekend.

Meanwhile, some local residents have criticised the authorities' response to the flooding crisis.

Around 300 members of the public attended a public meeting in Huntworth last night to air their concerns at the ongoing floods on the Levels – accusing the EA of sacrificing villages to prevent the flood water reaching Bridgwater.

The agency has constructed a temporary earth bank between the villages of Moorland and Huntworth to try to hold water back from the town, where around 1,000 homes on the outskirts are at risk of flooding. Residents in the village of Westonzoyland fear their homes could be flooded because water is being pumped into the King's Sedgemoor Drain relief channel close to their properties in order to protect Bridgwater.

But the agency said additional flood defence measures are being installed to make sure that does not happen.

"There has been some concern raised about a number of locations in that relief channel, such as Aller Drove and Westonzoyland," Jim Flory, area environment manager, said.

"The key thing to emphasise by releasing water from the River Parrett into the River Sowy is a controlled process and we do it by opening and shutting the sluice gates.

"We will be gradually opening it very incrementally and very carefully monitor it to make sure that the additional pumps we have put in are bringing the water through and not causing additional problems elsewhere.

"To make sure we are being completely secure in what we are doing we have put in some additional flood defences around Aller Drove and parts of Westonzoyland."

Meanwhile, the leader of Somerset County Council is backing the call by the Prime Minister for utility companies to do their bit to help victims of flooding. Councillor John Osman said some victims were facing hefty energy bills.

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4 comments

  • Charlespk  |  February 14 2014, 8:06PM

    If we are to believe all the 'End of the World' apologists for the Environment Agency and Lord "Smith", (The man who has been deriding MP "Ian Liddell-Grainger" for doing his job properly, like some typical Left-Wing bigot), rather than accept that 100 years is no time at all in the life of this planet and that weather patterns and precipitation caused are and always have been constantly changing, then we might as well all take our cyanide tablets now. Read more: http://tinyurl.com/pgssknx

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  • Charlespk  |  February 14 2014, 7:57PM

    They stopped dredging the rivers EVERYWHERE' for the BIRDS!!!!!!

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  • Charlespk  |  February 14 2014, 7:05PM
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  • nickthompson  |  February 14 2014, 6:31PM

    To all those who say dredging will make no difference, as someone who knows nothing about hydrology I would have thought that if dredging increases a river's capacity then surely it must help?

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  • Charlespk  |  February 14 2014, 11:29AM

    Excellent news, but the whole mouth of the Parrett still needs dredging down to the sea to take full advantage of the tidal fall. "The 37-mile long river is tidal for 27 miles up to Oath. . But because the fall of the river between Langport and Bridgwater is only about 1 foot per mile, it is prone to flooding in winter and during high tides. . Many approaches have been tried since at least the medieval period to reduce the incidence and effect of floods and to drain the surrounding fields, but it must be kept regularly dredged to enable enough flow of water out to sea."

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