The first glimmer of sun might have appeared in the South West but many on the Somerset Levels are still dealing with the aftermath of flood water devastating their home or business. We ran a flood recovery surgery last week in North Newton and my colleagues met over 30 residents from communities including Northmoor Corner, Chadmead, Tuckerton, and Bankland to discuss their experiences and how we’ll prepare together for next winter. The 8km dredge we're doing along the Parrett and Tone rivers is just one of the ways to help protect this area. As we dredge to reduce flood risk to people’s homes, lives and livelihoods it’s my role to help this work to go ahead smoothly and look after water quality and the water environment. We have to protect people and the environment, and we want to get it right.
Before the start of the dredge, I was part of the planning process to look at the impact dredging could have on the water environment and what impact had already occurred from the flooding. We analysed a range of existing information around the proposed dredge area and developed a monitoring programme.
As part of the monitoring programme, I’m particularly watching out for the dredge affecting water quality downstream. To help with this we have staff out on the ground taking water samples and we have a number of automatic water quality monitors across the river network, giving us continuous information on the state of the water environment. This will indicate when and where there is a risk of a pollution incident. I also help review the data and look out for indicators like lower dissolved oxygen levels. This information gives us time to adapt or change our dredge operation to reduce the risk of a pollution incident. So far I’m pleased that our monitors are showing that the water environment has not suffered any long term impact from the recent flooding, and there are no current indications of a risk to water quality from the ongoing dredging. With warmer weather on the way, and dredging operations set to expand, my colleagues and I will be keeping a close eye on our monitoring data
Have you attended one of our community flood events like a dredge drop-in session or a flood surgery? If so, we’d welcome your feedback at: http://feedback1.environmentagency.uk.com/s3/Feedback-survey