Committee gathers to tackle problems of flooding
A COMMITTEE of experts has met to discuss how the threat of flooding is dealt with in the Bristol area.
Among the suggestions put forward to cope with extreme events were walls along the banks of the River Avon as it runs through the city. This could help should climate change lead to rising sea and river levels.
The Environment Agency's Wessex Regional flood and coastal committee met at The Pavilion in the Harbourside yesterday.
Among items discussed was a presentation from Patrick Goodey, a flood risk engineer from Bristol City Council, who gave a presentation on recent flood risk studies and how they inform the authority's flooding strategy.
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He outlined the two main studies which inform flood management in the Bristol area.
The first is the Bristol central area flood risk assessment (CAFRA), which is currently being reviewed by the council before its results are published.
The study brings together all the rivers within the central area of Bristol into one combined model so for the first time the impacts of both storm water and tidal flows can be assessed under a number of different conditions.
For example, the study will look at what could happen if there was a combination of stormy weather at the same time as particularly high tides in the Severn Estuary – which in turn feeds the River Avon.
Mr Goodey said the study looks at what the flood risks are going to be to the city in the next 50 years, as well as in the next 100 years.
He said he believed the council needed to take an "adaptive approach" to its flood management.
"We really need to start planning for climate change now," he said.
"The report recommends "patching" little routes to stop as much water getting from the Avon into the Harbourside.
"That will probably work for the next 20 to 30 years but beyond that we need to look at something strategic – such as walls along the River Avon, which will obviously be unsightly, or putting something further downstream."
Bristol City Council has already been asked to undertake a feasibility study to assess the viability of a rising barrier across the River Avon, similar to the Thames Barrier.
Mr Goodey also outlined the council's Surface Water Management Plan (SWMP)
The SWMP has been published on the council's website to allow people to find out which areas are at risk.
Areas of Withywood, Hartcliffe and Whitchurch are shown to be at risk from surface water flooding and defence works have begun to be constructed.
A scheme is currently underway at the foot of Dundry Hill.
The project includes drainage improvements and land management changes to control surface runoff and, when completed in March, should reduce the flood risk to 56 properties.
At the meeting it was also reported that the Environment Agency is working with landowners and stakeholders to develop an acceptable option to strengthen, raise and realign the weakest sections of tidal embankments along the Congresbury Yeo, downstream of Tutshill Sluice. It is hoped it will reduce flood risk to villages and inland parts of Weston-super-Mare.