Flood Focus Friday


On the first anniversary of ‘Thunder Thursday’ flood agencies, a utility, academics and businesses from across the region will put the importance of forging stronger partnerships to tackle flooding in the spotlight.

The extreme weather on June 28 last year left the North East reeling as it flooded homes and businesses, caused millions of pounds worth of damage and traffic chaos and tested emergency services, flood agencies and utilities to their limits.

It heightened the need for more of a collaborative approach to adapt to the changing climate and to deal with extreme weather events.

A model which can predict where flooding will happen and how to lessen its impact by, for example, replacing hard surfaces with permeable surfaces, has been developed by Newcastle University.

Linking the model with information about Northumbrian Water’s vast 30,000 kilometre sewer network and from the Environment Agency, to provide more detailed flood maps and models, is a major step in the region’s battle against flooding.

A film, ‘FLOOD FORCE – finding solutions in better company’, produced by Northumbrian Water, Newcastle University and Living With Environmental Change (LWEC), will be premiered at Tyneside Cinema on Friday June 28 2013 between 8.30am and 10.30am.


The film, which highlights the important role the business community has to play in combatting flooding, also details Newcastle University’s research and flood model, Northumbrian Water’s changing approach to dealing with storm and surface water and businesses that are at the forefront of using sustainable options, such as creating ponds, to manage extreme weather events.

The crucial role that the Environment Agency’s incident rooms play during severe storms is also highlighted.

The Great Park Development, Newcastle, and the Rivergreen Centre, in Durham, are featured in the flood film and are a leading example to other businesses in the region on how to reduce the likelihood of flooding by using green, innovative solutions such as green roofs, permeable car parks and storage ponds.

Experts from Northumbrian Water, Newcastle University, LWEC, the Environment Agency, local authorities and businesses (including the Great Park Development and the Rivergreen Centre) will be at the film premiere to comment on dealing with the challenges of flooding.

Northumbrian Water’s wastewater director, Richard Warneford, said: “Our wastewater and customer service teams were pushed to their limits on ‘Thunder Thursday’. The cost to our business is in the region of £28 million. This is in addition to £120 million that we will spend on flooding between 2010 and 2015.
“We are thinking about new and innovative ways to avoid surface water entering our sewer network and to enable this partnership working is vital. Today’s event signifies our commitment to reduce the likelihood of flooding to customers′ homes and businesses to ensure that our investment in this area is as sustainable and efficient as possible.”

Newcastle University’s professor of climate change and hydrology, Chris Kilsby, said: “Our work on the frequency and impacts of extreme rainfall began over twenty years ago, largely as “blue sky” scientific research. It is very satisfying to see the results being recognised and used by our industry partners now, to deal with real problems faced in our cities both now and in the future.”

LWEC’s Susan Ballard said: “It has been really encouraging to see how the UK’s investment in research can help communities in Tyneside and further afield to make better informed decisions about how to manage flood risks. The film is a great way to spread good practice and to showcase useful tools from the research community which provide the basis for cost-effective action.”

The Environment Agency’s North East area flood and coastal risk manager, Phil Welton, said: “In some parts of the Tyneside area we recorded over two inches of rainfall in two hours - a storm intensity that should only occur every 150 years – and really the drainage systems can’t cope with that. With the development that we’ve seen in urban areas, that water has nowhere to go and it runs off into the streets and it floods roads and people’s homes and businesses. It is therefore important that everybody plays their part to help reduce the risk.”

Northumbrian Water and Newcastle University won a national competition run by LWEC to produce a film that tackled a key environmental issue, through partnership working with a focus on a specific audience.

For further information contact Cara Charlton, Northumbrian Water, on 0191 301 6720.

Living With Environmental Change represents an unprecedented partnership of organisations funding, undertaking and using environmental research, including the UK Research Councils, government departments, devolved administrations and delivery agencies. The ten-year initiative will connect world-leading natural, engineering, economic, social, medical, cultural, arts, and humanities researchers with policy-makers, business, the public, and other key stakeholders. For more information on the Living With Environmental Change partnership contact Susan Ballard (T: +44 (0)1793 442896, E: susan.ballard@lwec.org.uk - www.lwec.org.uk.

Northumbrian Water treats waste water from 2.6 million people across the North East and has a sewerage network comprising of 30,000 kilometres of sewer pipe, more than 418 sewage treatment works and 765 sewage pumping stations.

Newcastle University is a Russell Group University, ranked in the top 20 of UK universities in The Sunday Times 2013 University Guide. In the UK’s top 12 for research power in Science and Engineering, Newcastle University has a world-class reputation for research excellence and is spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing and Health, Sustainability, and Social Renewal.

Environment Agency One in six properties in England and Wales is at risk of flooding. People can check their flood risk on the Environment Agency’s website and sign up for free flood warnings. Alternatively they can call the Environment Agency Flood Line on 0845 988 1188. www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.

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