Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 26, 2016

Some Burscough Flooding Group Correspondence

To Carolyn Burns Customers and Engagement Officer
Cumbria and Lancashire Environment Agency environment-agency-registered-waste-carrier
Ghyll Mount, Gillan Way, Penrith 40 Business Park, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 9BP

Dear Carolyn

Thank you for your email. Please find my responses to it highlighted:

• What investigations are the EA currently undertaking to establish how instrumental the presence of the Weir plus the neglect of the maintenance of the sluice itself has had on the frequency and depth of the floods that have occurred in the last ten years culminating in the flood on the 26th December 2015? And what investigations is it undertaking to establish what effect the Weir is having on the groundwater level as measured by the BGS in Burscough?

Survey work has been carried out on the weir and locations around Crabtree Lane after the flooding events in December 2015. This along with LiDAR survey has demonstrated there is little to no chance that the weir has any effect on water levels on Crabtree Lane or in Burscough. Yew Tree Farm sits more than 20 metres higher than the weir at Martin Mere.

A large percentage of the houses on Fish Lane, Tarlscough and Mescar Lane were flooded by groundwater and surface water on Christmas and Boxing Day 2015 (please see the Flood Records attached) the EA has ignored them in its answer, yet they are near the weir.

In addition, EA publication River Weirs – Good Practice Guide in negative impacts of weirs table 1.1, states (at the very top of the table), Increased flood risk, then …. Raised groundwater level …. (restricted drainage). floodaware_aerial_flooding
So again, may I request that the EA please answer my original question, whilst taking all of the flooded properties near (or affected by) the weir into consideration.

• If the installation of the weir 30ish years ago and the neglect of the sluice is the reason so many people’s homes were flooded on Boxing Day 2015 and before, what processes would the EA need to undertake to remove the Weir altogether and get Martin Mere to clear the sluice of sediment and reeds?

The weir went through the proper Consent process at the time and is deemed to be in good working order. There is no evidence to support the idea that the weir caused any flooding to property. Bearing in mind that there is evidence that the weir has caused flooding from the EAs own publication and our database. Please would the EA kindly answer the remainder of the question (on a hypothetical basis if necessary), .. what processes would the EA need to undertake to remove the weir altogether and get Martin Mere to clear the sluice of sediment and reeds?

• How long after the weir is removed would it take for groundwater levels to reduce to their historic normal level and the groundwater flood risk (which spreads as far as the urban areas in Burscough) to also reduce?
We are unable to answer this, but telemetry from the borehole at Yew Tree Farm demonstrates that the current groundwater levels fall within the usual levels expected for this time of year.  

I appreciate why you may not be able to answer every question posed but I wonder why you stated what you have done about the groundwater level, when the graphs on the BGS site
clearly shows that groundwater water levels in Burscough have been rising steadily since the 1990s and this year is no exception as does the BGS’s own analysis. Why does the EA not provide the same analysis as the BGS and why does it not seek to warn residents about the flooding risks that it poses? Is protecting people and property from flooding still a fundamental part of the EAs remit or has the EAs remit changed? and if so what to?

• In addition, although known to be worse than inadequate, Burscough sewers surcharged widely on Boxing day, might that have been made worse by the high groundwater level or not?   We think this is unlikely, however we are unable to confirm.
I find your response quite at odds with a recent email from the EA in response to the same question posed by another member of BFG, who asked, “My research centres around rising groundwater levels especially in the West Lancashire area. My question is, does a rising groundwater level create a greater susceptibility to surface water flooding or poor drainage.”

When the EA wrote,
“Increased infiltration and a rise in the water table may result in more water flowing into rivers which may then be more likely to break their banks. A rise in the water table during periods of higher than normal rainfall may mean that land drainage networks, such as storm sewers, don’t work properly if groundwater is flowing into them underground. This may affect their ability to get rid of surface water which then causes flooding. © UK Groundwater Forum, 2011. All Rights Reserved. ukground

This abstract is taken from the following link. You may also find further groundwater information from this source that may be of interest.” Please can you explain why the EA sent me such a misleading answer?


Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group

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