Wising up to managing flood risk


North East children are helping to kick off a brand new community initiative aimed at reducing the risk of flooding.

Northumbrian Water’s innovative new scheme is part of a wider programme to manage surface water, called Rainwise.

The water company is hoping to address potential future flood risk and build resilience to climate change, by working more closely with communities across the region to reduce the amount of surface water entering the sewer network.

Keeping surface water out of the sewer network will help to free up additional capacity in the pipes, which is particularly important during heavy rainfall.

This initiative is industry-leading in progressing proactive community-led flood reduction solutions in locations that have not suffered flooding in the past, while providing additional benefit to those that have.

Pupils from Mickley First School have become the first to take part in the new scheme, which also seeks to raise awareness about how people of the North East can get involved and reduce the risk of flooding in their community as a whole.

Working in partnership with contractors Esh-MWH, Northumbrian Water has created a sustainable drainage system at the school near Prudhoe, by installing planters and a water butt.

Rainwater from the roof will also be diverted via a swale (grassy ditch) into a wildlife pond. These measures will help to prevent surface water from entering the sewer network.

The launch of the initiative will teach the pupils about the water cycle, the causes of flooding and the differences and impact of permeable and impermeable surfaces. Media are invited along to watch Mickley First School (NE43 7BG) pupils filling the new planters with water-loving plants at 9.30am on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

Richard Warneford, Wastewater Director at Northumbrian Water, said: "We need to be prepared for the future as population growth, an increase in the amount of impermeable surfaces and more rainfall means that our sewer network is under increasing pressure.

"By taking a proactive approach and working with communities, we hope to better understand local surface water issues and will work to identify the right solutions to minimise flood risk.

"Partnership working is also vital to tackle flooding in a holistic and cost effective way and we will work with local authorities’ and organisations like the Environment Agency whenever we can."

As well as installing new pipes to transfer surface water away from the sewer network and new tanks to store storm water, Northumbrian Water will use sustainable drainage solutions where possible.

These may include rainwater gardens, ponds or grassed-detention basins and have wider social and environmental benefits, including providing a green space in urban areas and creating valuable wildlife habitats.

Mr Warneford added: "We are encouraging people to get involved with this initiative, accessing our online community portal and providing us with the local knowledge in the areas we’re working in.

"The scheme will also help provide understanding of how small changes around the home can make a positive difference to managing surface water."

Head teacher of Mickley First School, Andy Hudson, said: "We are delighted to be asked to take part in this new scheme. The children have been watching with interest as the planters have been installed and have learnt about how the planters work in reducing or diverting water directly going into the drains.

"We hope that through being involved in this project it will make a difference to our local community and perhaps encourage others to take their own actions to help reduce the impact of flooding."

For more information about Rainwise, see www.nwl.co.uk/rainwise and to find out if Northumbrian Water is working in your area, visit www.nwlcommunityportal.co.uk.

To confirm your attendance at the launch or for more information, contact Janine Scott on 0191 301 6713.

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