More than 3,500 homeowners across North Tyneside are now benefitting from reduced flood risk, thanks to the completion of a three-year partnership flood reduction scheme.
Since July 2016, Northumbrian Water has been working with North Tyneside Council, the Environment Agency and supply partners, Esh-Stantec, on the £6 million project across Killingworth and Longbenton.
The work has been carried out in three phases, with the first phase involving the installation of a new pipe which allowed partners to divert the Longbenton Letch out of the sewer network and directly into the nearby Forest Hall Letch.
The second phase saw the construction of three natural surface water storage areas on Killingworth Moor, to make sure that the additional flows into Forest Hall Letch would be held back during times of heavy rainfall.
Finally, the latest phase of the project has involved the re-contouring of the south bank of Killingworth Lake and the planting of new trees and shrubs to help manage surface water sustainably.
Throughout the work, a number of initiatives carried out by the partners have meant that the community and the local environment are also seeing the benefit of the project in more ways than just reduced flood risk.
Benton Village Green and Killingworth Lakeside Park have been transformed, with the Lakeside Park now including wheelchair access, provision of two life-saving line ‘throw-bags′ with training from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service given to users of the lake, and a defibrillator, housed in the Killingworth Model Boat Clubhouse.
The project has also brought a number of benefits to the wider environment, such as bat boxes in the nearby Gosforth Park Nature Reserve and the installation of three innovative floating islands on Killingworth Lake.
The islands, or ‘floating eco-systems′ which were planted up with shrubs by children from West Moor Primary School, will help to keep the lake clear by sucking up nutrients and cleansing the water, as well as providing new habitats for wildlife above and below the water.
The partners have also worked with a number of other schools in the area to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities, and designed a wheelchair trail activity sheet with Percy Hedley School to explore the new accessible areas.
Steena Nasapen-Watson, Sustainable Sewerage Manager for Northumbrian Water, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be putting the finishing touches on what has been a huge, joint effort to reduce the risk of flooding across Killingworth and Longbenton.
"We′ve already seen the benefits of this project, where the new storage basins were utilised during the recent heavy rainfall and helped to reduce the impact of surface water flooding locally.
"The project team, led by our Project Manager, Lynn Preston, have been delighted to spend some time in the community during the scheme, where we have also worked with a number of schools and community organisations to leave a lasting legacy, involving them in projects to enhance the area as well as improving the environment.
"We′re pleased that this three-year project has had such a welcoming reception and we′d like to thank the community for their patience and understanding while we′ve carried out the work over the last three years."
Leila Huntington, the Environment Agency′s Flood Risk Manager for the North East, said: "It is fantastic news that the scheme across Killingworth and Longbenton is now complete. We′ve been working closely with Northumbrian Water and North Tyneside Council on developing and delivering this scheme for a number of years.
"As well as reducing the risk of flooding in the area this scheme has also delivered some wonderful additional recreational and community benefits. It has been a true partnership effort and it has been great to see the local schools and community getting involved.
"Across North Tyneside there is approximately £6.5m of Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) being invested between 2015 and 2021, which will help to better protect homes from flooding."
Cllr Carole Burdis, cabinet member for Community Safety, North Tyneside Council, said: "This is wonderful news for our residents as not only will this important scheme protect homes from the risk of flooding but it has a number of other benefits for the wider area and environment.
"It is also a fantastic example of the council working with its partners to create something really positive and demonstrates our commitment to keeping North Tyneside a great place to live, work and visit."
An event to celebrate the completion of the project is being planned for later in the year and customers in the area will be invited.
Residents can take a look at the work that′s been carried out by following the link to the Killingworth & Longbenton page on www.nwlcommunityportal.co.uk.