Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Emailed causes of flooding at New Mills Theale, and possible solutions, to West Berks Council

I sent the following email to the Principle Engineer at West Berkshire Council yesterday:

Subject: Flooding at New Mills, Theale
Dear Stuart,
you are probably aware that these three houses were flooded this Christmas and again within the last two weeks.
I went to the site last weekend and observed that floodwater was coming across the lane serving the houses from the field opposite. This, in turn, appeared to come from the Draper’s Osier Bed Stream on the opposite side of the field. Please see the photo below:

The flow of floodwater appeared to be limited by the culverts:
  • carrying the Draper’s Osier Bed Stream under Station Road (the field bordering the stream on the downstream side of the road was not flooded)
  • connecting the watercourses on each side of the access lane (this was not visible but turbulence suggested one was there)
  • carrying the watercourse on the south side of the access lane (the one onto which the houses front) under Station Road
This weekend I visited the weir that feeds the Draper’s Osier Bed stream from the Kennet (just upstream of Sulhamstead Lock). This is just a weir with a flimsy footbridge above and there are no sluices to control the flow – please see photo:

The last time I visited the weir, the summer before last, there was no water going over it. There is also a much smaller weir just upstream that was also feeding water into the stream at that time.
I observed that the water levels in the fishing lakes between the stream and the railway appeared to be much lower than the level in the stream, which was itself lower than the level in the Kennet. Please see the photo:

Several possible ways to ameliorate the flooding risk to these houses suggest themselves:
  • Improve the water flow through the culvert that carries the Draper’s Osier Bed Stream under Station Road
  • Enlarge the culvert that connect the two watercourses either side of the New Mills access lane and the culvert under Station Road that connects the southern watercourse to the Kennet
  • Improve the weir at the head of Draper’s Osier Bed Stream so that the flow of water into the stream can be controlled (e.g. with sluice gates).
  • Construct a weir and channel connecting the Drapers Osier Bed Stream to one or more of the fishing lakes so that the lakes store some of the floodwater. The above photo shows the close proximity of the stream and a lake.
I would welcome you comments on these ideas.
Kind Regards,
Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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