Somerset Levels and Moors January 2023

Background:
The Somerset Levels & Moors are designed to store flood water when the rivers flowing through them overtop. The recent heavy rain has caused spillways (specifically designed low-points in the riverbanks) on the Rivers Tone and Parrett to flow and there is now water stored on the moors. Flood alerts and warnings have been issued.

Current Situation:
The Parrett and Tone catchments have responded as expected following the recent rainfall on already wet ground.

Spillways are still running, and river levels are currently too high to operate the pumping stations at Currymoor and in the Langport area. Water stored on the moors may increase while the current unsettled weather continues, but we will pump it out as soon as river levels and tides allow.

There has been localised flooding of some roads and we have been working with our partners, including Somerset Highways, to advise on public safety and where necessary to close roads.

We are monitoring the situation and following our operational procedures. We had staff working 24/7 over the holiday period issuing flood alerts and warnings, and teams were out checking our flood defences and clearing debris screens and other assets to ensure they are working. 

Currymoor, one of the largest flood storage reservoirs on the Somerset Levels and Moors, is 60% full. It can store 17 million cubic metres of water safely.

Water injection dredging took place in 2022 and is starting again the first week of January 2023.

River bank inspection/and maintenance took place in 2022, and is planned again in 2023.

Outlook:
The current forecast is for intermittent rain over the next 3-5 days.  Forecasting longer term is less reliable so we continuously monitor the situation.

We, and our partners at the Somerset Rivers Authority, are well prepared should the weather get worse this winter.

Our trigger points plan sets out when we begin deploying mobile pumps. Somerset Levels and Moors: reducing the risk of flooding – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The Somerset Levels and Moors are designed to store floodwater. However, the £80 million of investment since 2014 in flood risk interventions (https://www.somersetriversauthority.org.uk/flood-risk-work/sra-annual-report-2020-21/progress-against-flood-action-plan-targets-2020-21/ ) will help us better manage the flooding. It allows us to take pre-emptive action to delay the onset of flooding and to evacuate the waters more effectively. Together this enables communities to be more resilient and to recover more rapidly from flooding.