On the 14th January I posted this article following the extreme rainfall that the UK’s had this winter. I asked some serious questions as they related to Wolverhampton and the sub -region we are part of. Read the article and the questions I posed, then also read the response from the City Council which follows. I would be pleased to receive any comments you would like to make, with regards this important subject drainage as it relates to flooding. Read On!
“With the drenching that the UK has had, and with a large part of the winter still to go. I have written to the City Council’s Managing Director asking him for “some reassurance that if the weather had treated Wolverhampton as unkindly as it has Northern Cities, would we have been able to cope? Have our drains been cleared of obstructions, is there a plan that can be put into place with our other partners like The Environmental Agency and Severn Trent Water company that will enhance the safety of our homes, in the event of heavy storms. Has these flood defence systems been tested recently, if so when?. Can you reassure me that Government funding cuts have not weakened our planned flooding expenditure.”
I also have asked him if he can “also address what is happening on a sub – regional and regional level, around the need for sound flood defence here in the Black Country.”
Dear Councillor Bateman
Thanks for your recent enquiry regarding the readiness of Wolverhampton to cope with significant flooding. A report is due to go to Cabinet on 24 February seeking approval of the Local Strategy for Flood Risk Management in the Black Country. Prepared by consultants on behalf of the four Black Country Authorities this high-level strategy meets Defra requirements regarding:
• Understanding and communicating flood risk in the Black Country
• Managing the likelihood and impacts of flooding
• Helping Black Country citizens to manage their own risk
• Ensuring appropriate development in the Black Country (with regard to drainage and flood protection)
• Improving flood prediction, warning and post flood recovery
• Working in partnership with others to deliver the local strategy (including the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water)
The strategy notes that “Historically Wolverhampton has not suffered from major flooding… due to its history of drainage infrastructure development, the topography of the land and its location upstream of the country’s primary river basins”. “The main flood risk is from localised incidents caused by extreme surface water run-off and blocked gullies”. Any flood risks from ordinary watercourses (which are the Council’s responsibility) are often associated with poor maintenance of culverts and/or trash screens leading to blockages. Several historical groundwater flooding issues have also been reported, especially in the north-east of Wolverhampton.
At a practical level, in response to the above risks, roadside gullies are cleansed annually by Public Realm, who also respond to flood emergencies. However heavy rainfall can occasionally overload sewer capacity (the responsibility of Severn Trent) and reduce the effectiveness of the drainage network because of the sheer volume. We have a brook grid maintenance contract (land drainage) that deals with accumulations of debris in our water courses, again covering responsive as well as routine maintenance. With the City’s culverts there is the possibility of CCTV surveys in the near future to assess the need for any maintenance or de-silting work.
A current example of flood defence works relates to Waterhead Brook in Fallings Park – an ordinary watercourse that often causes flooding of rear gardens and the carriageway in Waterhead Drive. While this may be related to the aforementioned groundwater flooding issues works will commence this month to lower the top level of the watercourse and so reduce the frequency and severity of local flooding. It has not been thought necessary to develop flood defences in Wolverhampton similar to the removable barriers found alongside the River Severn, for example.
Wolverhampton can be viewed as a shallow 3-sided pyramid with water courses that feed into the River Penk, Tame and Severn running down each side. We have properties that are at risk of flooding but not to the same degree as areas with major river networks. As with all public budgets there is pressure on the level of funding available from central government for flood defence. However Councillor Reynolds is a regular attendee of the quarterly Regional Flood and Coastal Committee meetings where funding issues are discussed. I am not aware that funding for its 6-year scheme programme has been reduced.
I hope this note is useful. I can forward you the final Local Strategy for Flood Risk Management in the Black Country document when available later this month if you’d like a copy. Regards Keith Rogers Service Lead, Highway Assets.