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ada gazette SPRING 2014 | NEWS

Goole on 6 December 2013 (Environment Agency)

bank into the IDB drain at the toe of the bank. Some 1,500 hectares of farmland fl ooded but there was no fl ooding to houses or buildings. Salt water was pumped off through the IDB drains and Environment Agency main river through EA pumps at Winestead and Skeffl ing. IDB contractors were mobilised the morning after the high tide to clean out the drains. Within a week of the breach, South Holderness IDB acted as a contractor to the EA to reinstate the bank.

South Holland IDB The operations manager had

driven the whole length of the coastline bordering the South Holland district and the rack mark was at least 1.5 metres from the top of the sea defences. There were some minor breaches at Springfi eld’s Sluice and at the Fosdyke Pub, with the level at Sutt on Bridge Dock just 6 inches away from overtopping. Staff with 3 inch pumps were deployed to Boston, but the reach of the pumps were insuffi cient.

Black Sluice IDB Black Sluice IDB has 34 pumping

stations, one of which, Wyberton Marsh Pumping Station, is situated on the southern banks of the Boston Haven on the edge of the Wash estuary. Following the exceptionally high tide and unusual weather conditions on the evening of the 5 December, which resulted in the subsequent breach in the sea defence, the pumping station was called into full emergency action later that evening. Over the next two days, the three high volume pumps within the pumping station, capable of pumping 2,800 litres per second when running simultaneously, pumped nonstop. At one stage the high volumes of sea water coming through the sea defence breach and fl owing towards the pumping station were too great and additional 300mm and 150mm diameter mobile pumps were set up to assist with the pumping, with all the water being pumped back directly into the Haven. This resulted in close to 200 million litres of sea water being pumped back into the Haven throughout Thursday 5 December and Friday 6 December. Staff and equipment from adjacent Boards

were used at the pumping station and throughout the catchment, clearing obstructions to allow the uninterrupted free fl ow of water to the pumping station. The pumping station has very recently had further fl ood defence resilience works carried out whereby the electric pumps and control panels were lifted and three 900mm diameter non-return valves fi tt ed within the outfall pipes.

Friday evening. A multi agency partnership organised, controlled and managed these works which in turn safeguarded the Wyberton catchment from further and prolonged fl ood damage.

Witham Fourth District IDB Along the Board’s coastline there was a large

amount of overtopping, including a major breach of a private sea defence at Friskney (see image above). Witham Fourth IDB paid close att ention to pre-event warnings and prepared the staff to operate double shifts in the offi ce and over

the district over 5 and 6 December and had two shifts on standby over the weekend. On the evening of the 5 December the Board deployed men and pumps to Boston to assist the emergency services. The Board’s offi ces on Norfolk Street in Boston just escaped fl ooding.

Witham First, Third and Upper As inland Boards,

there was litt le direct involvement but three

Hemsby in Norfolk, located in the Broads IDB (Environment Agency) 11

Black Sluice IDB engineers are convinced the non-return valves saved the pumps from being swamped by the exceptionally high tide. Black Sluice IDB staff and workforce worked around the clock throughout the event until the breach was temporarily secured, stopping further sea water fl owing through into the catchment. This operation was only able to be completed with a Merlin helicopter on standby overhead, whilst land plant positioned one tonne sand bags during

offi cers were able to man the Lincolnshire Tactical Support Group at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue during the event. Two members of staff were sent to assist Black Sluice IDB with a breach.

Impacts on the Environment (Natural England) The event caused extensive fl ooding of more than 30 conservation sites behind seawalls

Private sea defence at Friskney

and dune ridges from the Tees estuary south to Essex. These were mostly coastal grazing marshes (grasslands with wet ditches) and reedbeds. All of these sites are of national importance (SSSIs) and the vast majority are also of international importance. Seawalls protecting at least 7 conservation sites were breached, located in Norfolk (3), Suff olk (3), and Tees estuary (1). In some locations, mainly Norfolk, there were multiple breaches to seawalls. Three large seal colonies were

inundated by the fl oodwater (Donna Nook in Lincolnshire, Blakeney Point and Winterton to Horsey Dunes in

Norfolk). This has occurred during the pupping season and young seal pups were washed away. Losses are being assessed but at least 170 pups were lost at Winterton. This is not of long-term ecological signifi cance but is an important story to bear in mind. The conservation interest and ecology of most coastal sites means that they are able to recover from periodic inundation; however, at least one site (a freshwater marsh at Walberswick in Suff olk) required urgent action for its conservation interest to be protected. At this site (a National Nature Reserve) pumping was required to remove saline fl ood waters.

(Jim Blaylock)

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