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Gully Guardians – Helping to Reduce Surface Water Flooding in the Area

Woman in hi-vis vest taking photo of surface drain

Gully Guardians – Helping to Reduce Surface Water Flooding in the Area

A blog by our Flood Resilience Project Manager, Tarun Ingvorsen

We have had quite a wet winter, which, whilst good for our over-stretched aquifers (the body of permeable rock underground holding groundwater) and our water supply, especially here in the South East, has led to a fair amount of localised surface water flooding. Many of your have been in contact with me to let me know about water pooling on your road and property. It may well feel disrupting and like there is not much you can do, but this is not the case!

Surface water flooding, as I have written about previously, can occur for a number of reasons. If there is a high tide and the surface water drains into the River Thames become inundated by tide water, there will not be enough space for rainwater to drain away from the land. If it has rained a lot and the ground becomes over saturated, rainwater cannot soak away into the ground. If drains are blocked with debris, then water can not drain away, into them.

The first cause is being addressed presently by the EA, who are fixing the damaged non-return valves along the river front. The second cause can be addressed by looking to create extra attenuation (water storage) on the land, for example by restoring the Beverley Brook’s natural course, or by creating ponds, such as the reedbeds we will be installing on Barnes Common in the summer. Additionally, we can target these issues by addressing the causes of climate change. The third point is a little different and can be mitigated by you.

We are launching a volunteer programme called Gully Guardians to help direct the management and maintenance of ground gullies and drains in the area, just by reporting blocked drains. This programme has been designed to enable the community to actively monitor the flood risk of their area. By regularly checking the condition of the drains and reporting blockages, volunteers will aid the reduction of flood risk and increase flood resilience.

The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames’ Highways Department are working to clear and improve the drainage network in the area. You can help to identify the streets where this is needed, as a member of the community. Although the Council’s Highways Department inspect the gullies within the borough themselves, there are around 17,000 gullies and they need support in monitoring them. This is why your help is so important. By doing this, we hope to see a decrease in blocked drains, a decrease in localised surface water flooding and an increase in knowledge of flooding and wellbeing in the community.

If you are interested in helping out, join our volunteer induction day on the 15th March at Vine Road Rec., in Barnes. Please sign up to our free Gully Guardian induction event. I look forward to seeing you there.

Working in partnership with the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRuT) and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), we have been awarded £6m from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to increase flood resilience in the Beverley Brook’s catchment in Richmond and areas of Wandsworth. The Community BlueScapes project runs over 6 years and is part of the £200m Flood and Coastal Resilience and Innovation Programme, managed by the Environment Agency (EA). We were one of 25 programmes selected to drive innovation in flood and coastal resilience and adaptation to a changing climate, across the country. You can find more information about flood resilience here.