Somerset Levels and Moors 11.01.2023

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 a warning for Currymoor remain in place.

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

We are maximising pumping when river levels and tides allow.

Hook Bridge, Allermoor and Beasleys Spillways have been running when the river channels are full; pumps have operated intermittently as they only pump when there is capacity in the rivers.

We are monitoring the situation and following our operational procedures. Our teams are out checking our flood defences and clearing debris screens and other assets to ensure correct operation. 

Currymoor, one of the largest flood storage reservoirs on the Somerset Levels and Moors, is over 90% full. Pumping that we undertook over the last 24 hours, stopped it from filling up and prevented Athelney spillway from running. It can be pumped out in about 14 days with low enough river levels. It can store 17 million cubic metres of water safely.

Currymoor spills over into Northmoor and Saltmoor via Altheney spillway and Lyng Cutting. Northmoor and Saltmoor are currently empty. If the Athelney Spillway and Lyng Cutting start running & water flowing in exceeds the capacity of the drainage pumps, these moors will begin to fill.

The A361 is at risk of flooding when these moors begin to fill. Closure decisions focus on the safety of road users. Emergency road closure gates – Travel Somerset.

Our current predictions indicate that these moors are unlikely to begin filling imminently. We will notify Somerset Highways if this changes. They will take the decision about closing the A361, tonight it has been re-opened.

Outlook:
The 5 day forecast includes a wet weather warning for this region. Longer range forecasts are less reliable.

Our trigger points plan sets out when we deploy mobile pumps.

We are taking action as the trigger has been met for Northmoor and Saltmoor pumping stations. The actions include mobilising additional pumps for these locations giving us additional capability to pump out these moors. We are also taking pre-emptive action at Currymoor pumping station and Dunball tidal doors.

The Somerset Levels and Moors are designed to store floodwater. However, the £80 million of investment since 2014 in flood risk interventions is helping 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.