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Environment Agency
 
 
EA Community flooding update
 
Somerset #2
 
Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve at sunset
 
Welcome to the Environment Agency's monthly Community Update for Somerset. Please read on for a round-up of the work we're doing to recover from the winter flooding. If there is a subject of particular interest to you that we've not included, please let us know and we'll update you in the next issue.
 
What's happening across Wessex?

New ways to communicate with you
Find out how we are harnessing the power of social media to keep you informed with immediate updates to situations affecting communities in Wessex. 

What's happening in Somerset?

Dredging update
What's the latest on the dredging project? Have you popped along to one of our drop-in sessions at Gillards Yard on a Wednesday?
Sowy/Kings Sedgemoor Drain improvements What's the latest on Sowy/KSD improvements? How will this improve our pumping options for the in future?
Parrett Barrier workshop
With Sedgemoor District Council we organised a technical meeting to discuss options for a flood defence barrier for the River Parrett in Bridgwater.
Northmoor Pumping Station update
If you haven't already had our specific Northmoor Pumping Station briefing, you can read more
 


Other ways we communicate
Other social media channels that we use to keep you up to date with what's happening at the Environment Agency are Flickr and Twitter.




Asset* repair programme
We've nearly 50 asset repair projects lined up for this summer in Somerset. Many will help us manage the flood risk on the Somerset Levels and Moors.
Secretary of State visits Somerset to check on dredging progress
Owen Paterson, MP, visited Somerset to check on progress of the Parrett/Tone dredging project.
Community engagement events
In the last update we let you know we were running community engagement events in areas affected by the flooding.
Construction of soil bunds and ring banks
The 20 year flood action plan contains an action to review, and where appropriate, create small scale ring banks.
 
 
New ways to communicate with you
 
 
Screen grab of EA's Wessex Facebook homepageWe are piloting a Wessex area Facebook page, which is a first for the Environment Agency. We've had a corporate page for quite a while, but now we can take part in conversations that are specifically about our local area. For example, we've been able to post the latest situation on an oil spill in Pewsey, what actions we've taken to reduce dust and flies at a site in Avonmouth, what's happening in real-time on the dredging project, and respond to questions from residents.

Pop over and give us a 'like', so you can keep up to speed on what's happening in your area.

Have you seen the Environment Agency blog? Our blog is another channel that we use to communicate with you, and to hear what you have to say about our work. The blog was launched in April and carries a variety of stories about some of the things we've been up to lately. Most recently we've published an article on communicating about dredging and a further article on protecting water quality on the Rivers Tone and Parrett.

The blog isn't just about profiling our projects and day to day work – we also use it to explain how we're working with others to take a deeper look at some key issues we're facing. If you've got a story you want to hear, please let us know.
 
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Other ways we communicate
 
 
Screen grab of EA's Flickr homepageNot only do we have a growing library of photos of Environment Agency work across the country, but we have created an album for the Somerset dredge. They say a picture speaks 1000 words, so check out the photos for the latest.

We've been using Twitter (@EnvAgencySW) for some time to share news from Wessex.

We monitor conversations, correct misinformation, share updates or photos, inform our followers about events in their area and publish alerts for road closures or diversions.  
 
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Dredging update
 
 
If you've signed up to receive the dredging updates, you'll know that as of this week we've dredged 2.2km of river bank on the Parrett and Tone and removed 25,000m3 of silt. We are currently continuing to work downstream on the River Parrett towards Westonzoyland Pumping Station, and we have two gangs working on the Tone between Athelney Road Bridge and Creeds Farm. You'll see progress continuing to accelerate and we now have six gangs working on site.

Photo of dredging machine on River Parrett bankWe have been running drop-in sessions close to where the dredging gangs are working since the beginning of April. For the last two weeks, we've had a compound and office at Gillards Yard (Samways Farm) at Burrowbridge where residents can come along to discuss progress on the dredge, repairs to structures and riverbanks and updates on the 20 year plan with our staff. These have been really useful to us, thank you for your contributions. The community has given us valuable information to ensure that road closures and diversions cause the least disruption.

If you've not had a chance to come along yet, come along later today between 4.30 and 6.30.  
 
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Sowy/Kings Sedgemoor Drain (KSD) improvements
 
 
We are assessing improvements for the River Sowy and KSD so that in a future flood we could quickly and more easily divert water from the River Parrett through to Dunball. This would lower the levels in the River Parrett sufficiently to enable us to operate the pumping stations to help lower water levels on the moors around Langport, and to a lesser degree around West Sedgemoor, Currymoor and Northmoor.

We are currently project planning/scoping the work and hope to have a consultant appointed by the end of July. We will work with communities and our professional partners to agree aims and to include them in the development of the options. By the autumn we will have assessed a range of options to see what is feasible. We will need partnership funding to build the scheme.
Kings Sedgemoor Drain under stormy sky
 
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Parrett barrier workshop
 
 
On Friday 6 June, together with Sedgemoor District Council we organised a technical meeting to discuss options for a flood defence barrier for the River Parrett. 60 people attended and we aimed to bring everyone up to the same level of understanding as there have been various studies conducted over a number of years.

A barrier is needed to address the impact of sea level rise and to protect Bridgwater from flooding. Updating the options for the Bridgwater Barrier is a key action in the 20 year flood action plan for the Somerset Levels and Moors.

At the meeting we presented information about the various options for the type of barrier that could be used; gave presentations from experts from across the country who have been involved in the design of other flood defence barriers and we discussed the long-term vision for Bridgwater.

We now plan to get together a group to review these options, and compile a report by September. This report will contribute to an informed decision on the preferred option.

We estimate that it will be 3 to 5 years before construction starts and will take 2 years to complete.
 
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Northmoor Pumping Station update
 
 
Photo of Northmoor Pumping StationThe diesel engines at Northmoor Pumping Station have now reached the end of their useful life – while we have consistently maintained these, spare parts are no longer commercial available, so we are replacing the diesel engines with electric motors.

The new electric motors will be easier to operate, maintain and quieter to run. The new motors will be equipped to enable quick installation of temporary standby generation should the site lose electrical power and we are re-siting the transformer to increase reliability and resilience at the pumping station. We started work last week, so if you're in the area, you'll see an increased level of activity. The work will be complete by mid August.

We are carrying out a survey to determine the extent of repairs to the discharge culvert we are looking at making permanent the hard standing, to make it quicker and easier to install temporary pumps in the future.  
 
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Asset* repair programme
 
 
Most of the work will be undertaken by our appointed contractor Team Van Oord (TVO). We've worked with TVO many times, including during the flooding when we appointed them to install and operate the big temporary pumps at Dunball, Huntworth and Beer Wall. TVO can provide the necessary level of engineering and structural know-how to carry out this large number of projects to a tight timescale.

The repair programme means putting back assets to their pre-flood condition. There will be some places where making additional improvements at the same time as the repairs would seem more sensible. Where this is the case and generally where we will still be able to make sure the asset is in working order before winter, we will look for additional funding to enhance the repairs. We won't be able to do this if it will delay our pre-winter deadline though.

We're aiming to complete all the improvements by the end of October 2014. You'll see that is a very short deadline so we'll have to manage the programme carefully.

Some of the main projects we'll be working on this summer are:
  • Bank repairs due to erosion, risk of over-topping low points, and wave action damage along stretches of 
1. the tidal River Parrett up to the area around Langport and including the banks
    around Burrowbridge; 
2. the River Tone up to Knapp; 
3. the Rivers Yeo, Isle, and Parrett above Langport, and the Westport Canal; 
4. the Rivers Brue and Axe. 
  • Repairs to several pumping stations, including Huish Episcopi/Ablake, Saltmoor and Long Load.
You'll have seen earlier in this update that work starts this week on Northmoor Pumping Station.  

* 'Assets' are flood protection/defence structures – in this context we mean banks, pumping stations, sluices, gates and other mechanisms we own. 
 
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Secretary of State visits Somerset to check on dredging progress
 
 
Owen Patterson, MP, visits dredging on RIver Parrett, June 2014Since our last update, Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State visited the Somerset Levels and Moors to see for himself the progress on the Parrett/Tone dredging project. Mr Paterson was positive that the dredge is on schedule to be completed by the end of October, that he was confident that we would achieve the 1960's profile. 
 
 
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Community engagement events
 
 
Our programme of events in the Somerset Levels and Moors has ended for now, and we have so far held 10 successful events, with approximately 400 people attending.

Working with a variety of our professional partners (Somerset County Council, South Somerset and Sedgemoor District Councils, Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium and the local village agents), we are listening to feedback from those communities affected by flooding and sharing our programme of flood recovery work.

We will be holding additional community events to discuss flood risk and the proposed Sowy/KSD improvements (see article in this update) as well as sharing options on the proposed scheme.

We're also planning events to discuss Allermoor Spillway repairs, Beer Wall improvements and Muchelney road improvements. We'll update you as soon as we can.
 
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Construction of soil bunds and ring banks
 
 
One of the locations identified for a possible ring bank is Thorney. The Internal Drainage Board has a design and outline cost for this scheme and their consultation with local residents was well received. The planning application is currently with South Somerset District Council and a decision is expected in August.

The 20 year flood action plan programme board has agreed to fund the project and we and our partners are committed to delivering this project before next winter.

We are also scoping a project to look at where else within the flooded area there is a need, and justification, for further ring banks. We are currently stockpiling some of the dredged silt which we could use for this purpose although it is looking likely that most of the silt will be needed for repairs to riverbanks that were damaged last winter during the flooding.  
 
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