Wye Flood Working Group
Flood Risk: Environment Agency Analysis
'January's effective rainfall equated to 250% of the monthly long term average for the Kent and south London catchments, and it was the second successive month of extreme rainfall (December total 200%).'
'Unremitting rainfall has saturated the ground, and generated conditions that continue to support rapid recharge. Accelerated rates of groundwater level rise prevail, and are now being recorded across all the Area's aquifers. The consequence of which is that groundwater levels are now best classified as being above normal, moving to notably high. The exception being the most responsive aquifers, where the levels are better represented as being exceptionally high.' Environment Agency research and analysis
Kent and south London groundwater situation: 9th February 2021
The Great Stour in flood at Wye Mill, but surface water flooding is a much bigger problem for Wye.
Climate change and flood risks
The Flood Working Group is addressing the local causes of flooding, and preparing for the effects of climate change. For context, the Met Office expects that the UK's weather will remain variable, but climate change will result in:
- 'Warmer and wetter winters
- Hotter and drier summers
- More frequent and intense weather extremes'
- Source: Climate change in the UK the Met Office
The predicted consequences of climate change include more frequent and intense convection downpours and flash flooding events after summer thunderstorms. The surface water flooding events are localised, sudden and unpredictable. While milder, wetter winters will keep farmland at field capacity for longer and this will increase the potential for flooding, especially during winter storm events. How the chalk aquifer responds each year will be critical for the springs and nailbournes across the North Downs.
Flooding in Wye
Tackling flooding problems
The severe rain events of April and May 2018 and the subsequent surface water flooding of homes and businesses, remain fresh in the minds of many residents. The Parish Council and the Wye Flood Working Group (FWG) members are working on practical ways to avoid or mitigate future flood risk events and build community resilience and promote natural flood management options.
The list of actions needed to deal with the whole spectrum of flooding issues includes flood risk assessment, effective flood preventative measures, practical advice on how to deal with a live flooding event safely and advice on how to deal with the aftermath of a flood (from clearing up to house insurance issues)
- The National Flood Forum Helpline 01299 403055 and its website and Blue Pages directory of property flood products provide residents with advice, information and contacts. (The Parish Council does not endorse any of the products listed in Blue Pages).
Since the flooding events of April and May 2018 the Wye Flood Working Group meets to prevent or mitigate the effects of future flooding events. The Parish Council is proactive in supporting this resident-led initiative. The group is working with KCC Highways as the key partner, and the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership, is working with landowners to identify natural flood management opportunities.
Image: The Great Stour in flood, upstream of Wye bridge. The wide floodplain is doing its job, and the swans in the distance are taking advantage of this temporary lake. Charter House in Ashford is just visible on the horizon, immediately to the right of the setting sun.
Wye flood actions
Wye Flood Working Group is tackling the flooding problems and building community resilience on five levels by:
1) Taking a landscape level approach to identify options for natural flood management measures to slow flows and manage flash storm events as these can soon overwhelm drainage systems and cause surface water flooding;
2. Working with KCC Highways, Kent Resilience Forum, Environment Agency, the River Stour (Kent) Internal Drainage Board and riparian owners, to maintain and improve drainage assets and minimise risks;
3) Supporting local initiatives e.g. Flood Warden training to monitor and manage problems safely e.g. be prepared to install physical barriers to close roads and divert flood water away from homes and businesses;
4) Enabling individual householders to take practical measures to protect their own properties and prevent damage;
5) Preparing a Community Flood Action Plan to guide emergency services and agencies with key information and local knowledge in a single document for ease of reference.
In parallel, the Parish Council acting in its role as a statutory consultee on all planning applications, raises awareness of the flooding and drainage constraints in Wye and promotes flood mitigation measures. However the Parish Council objects strongly to applications that will make the existing flooding problems worse.
Wye Mill water meadows. A Flood Working Group working party clearing the ditch from Harville Road in December 2019. Cllr Mike West is operating the excavator. The bed of this section of ditch across the water meadow is chalk bedrock, and groundwater emerging from this chalk feeds the river Great Stour, which becomes a chalk stream below Wye bridge.
Wye Flood Action Plan
The FWG members have written a combined Flood Action Plan for Harville Road and Bramble Lane. These areas are paricularly vulnerable to surface water flooding. The Parish Council has endorsed the draft document. When Kent County Council (KCC) also endorses this Plan it will be lodged with the relevant local government agencies to inform how they respond to emergency flood events, and prioritise routine maintenance matters.
These documents show the historic extent of flooding in the area, and the trigger levels for action based on local experience. Once KCC adopts the Wye Flood Action Plan, it can delegate authority to the Parish Council to act during a flood event. This could give the Parish Council the legal power needed to close roads without delay, and provide residents with equipment to deal with flood events.
Flood events pose a serious risk of death or injury to the general public, can leave families homeless, affect businesses and disrupt vital transport links to our community. The Parish Council encourages everyone to take an interest and support the Flood Group initiatives, even if their own home is not at risk.
Water meadows by Wye Mill. Water meadows have a vital role in river flood management as they provide a temporary storage area for flood water. They also provide excellent 'early bite' grazing and an extensive area of wetland habitat.
Blue Pages flood products
Blue Pages: a directory of property flood products and services put together to advise and inform you of what's available to help reduce the risk of flooding to your home or business.
National Flood Forum Helpline on 01299 403055.