Council publishes independent flood report

Published Wednesday, 30th December 2015

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Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has published a report into the flooding of September 2014.

The independent reports, produced by AECOM, details the flooding events that took place on 19th September 2014 across the central seafront area, Westcliff-on-Sea and Leigh-on-Sea.

The report will be discussed by the council’s cabinet on 5th January 2016 and recommends next steps for the various bodies responsible for flooding, many of which have already been completed.

The report details how flooding was a result of a combination of factors but mainly caused by extreme rainfall within a small ‘storm cell’ that created an intensity of rainfall (1 in 293 year event) that overwhelmed sewer capacity. The tide-locking of outfalls to sea and water surcharging out of sewers through gullies is also highlighted.

The report show how a vast amount of work that has been done since the flooding and during the production of the reports, including:

  • AECOM have been commissioned to develop an integrated model of the central seafront area due to the complexity of the drainage network and relationship between surface water and sewer flooding
  • Two ‘strategic pumping locations’ have been identified in the centrals seafront area and a procedure has been developed by the council to deploy fire engines to pump water from gulley chambers, over the sea wall, during times of heavy rainfall
  • Highways improvements have been made outside the lowest properties in Highland Boulevard and storm drainage improvements
  • Double road gullies installed in Vardon Drive in January 2015
  • Damaged road gulley connections in Crowstone Avenue have been replaced
  • Anglian Water have installed non-return valves, flood doors and gates on flooded properties along Chalkwell Avenue and Chalkwell Esplanade

Key recommendations to the council include the installation of more road gullies in locations identified to be susceptible to surface water flooding, specific recommendations for Symons Avenue, Vardon Drive and Warners Bridge and more regular inspection of gulley leads.

Martin Terry, Executive Councillor for Public Protection, Waste and Transport, said: “This report shows the sheer scale of work that continues to be undertaken by the council and other partners to help tackle what are now known as higher risk areas.

“This report makes it clear that a combination of factors all played their part in various flooding incidents across the Borough, but ultimately an extreme 1 in 293 year rainfall event within a small ‘storm cell’ created an intensity of rainfall that overwhelmed sewer capacity.

“The capacity of the network is something I have spoken about previously, and this report highlights that surcharging was an issue, so I welcome the work that Anglian Water have done and continue to do to investigate the capacity of the system and the positive work of the Southend Flood Partnership which is working together to create a flood model for the central seafront area. I understand this work is nearing completion.   This state of the art survey, will give us all really detailed picture to help us understand and avoid future flooding issues in this area.

“I will of course however continue to lobby for infrastructure improvements and investment that we need to deal with these identified capacity issues.

“We have also continued to develop our flood response and ensuring that the drains and gullies in our ownership are working properly and routinely cleared as part of our bi-annual inspections.  Anglian Water, who own assets below the ground, have also been surveying those.

“It is important to note that the report highlights the work that communities can do and that since the previous flood incident report was published, the council has developed public information for at-risk property owners on flooding, and has improved our online information and have helped 124 properties access £5,000 of flood protection each to provide practical work to improve flood protection in their homes and businesses.”