March put under the flooding spotlight
With more than a month’s rainfall in a single day in December, many areas of Cambridgeshire were affected – but issues in March were exacerbated by its location and soil conditions, a meeting called by local councillors to investigate issues has heard.
Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Flood Risk Teams and Anglian Water met recently with Councillors Steve Count, Jan French, John Gowing, Rob Skoulding and Ray Jack to assist with the investigations that Cambridgeshire County Council must undertake as lead local flood authority.
The meeting heard extensive flooding across March was seen from December 23, with several properties impacted.
March is a low-lying island of clay and till surrounded by reclaimed marsh/fen, which makes managing excessive rainfall and the resulting surface water a major challenge.
The meeting heard pumps were overwhelmed, and in some cases, water couldn’t be pumped out as there was nowhere to pump it to.
Even without these challenges some flooding would have likely happened and the meeting agreed that all organisations need to work together to be prepared, because these events will happen again.
Cambridgeshire County Council has already submitted a bid for Innovation Funding to look at fen flood risk management with March as a key element - which if agreed would be an multi-million pound multi-year project.
Anglian Water has also committed funding to improve foul drainage infrastructure.
Maintenance is a key issue where there is a complex network of interlinked assets. There are several
known cases where blockages in drains and culverts caused flooding. While maintenance is a responsibility for owners, including home owners and businesses which have drainage assets on their land, there is a role for both local authorities and other agencies.
Having reviewed a number of the key issues, the meeting agreed to:Write to government requesting a review of legislation which allows developers to have a right to connect to the drainage system from any connection which meets required standards – particularly recognising the uniqueness of March where traditional surface water disposal doesn’t work.
And call for the lead local flood authority to look at creating a single mapping resource of all water courses etc to deal with a challenge of knowing where all the drainage assets are and who is responsible for them.
March has already successfully received funding to improve the town centre which will include works to Broad Street and the meeting also to opportunity to highlight that drainage there needed to be reviewed.
There was recognition of the role taken by March Town Council in managing the situation and supporting residents, including purchasing equipment which will help residents – with a call for need to work together to streamline communications between all partners and directly to residents in incidents like this.