Northwich flooding contingency plan launched to help protect town’s residents and businesses

02 Nov 2022

A comprehensive flooding contingency plan has been launched for Northwich, bringing partners together to protect the town’s residents and businesses during adverse weather.

Led by Cheshire West and Chester Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority, working with the Environment Agency and United Utilities, the Multi-agency Emergency Flooding Plan for Northwich Town Centre, is now complete and will be put through its paces during a test exercise later this month.

Informed by previous flooding events in the town, the plan is already being put into action through enhanced monitoring, and the agencies involved have completed their pre-winter checks on assets such as sewers, drains and gullies.

The monitoring system now in place includes a river level monitor at Hayhurst Bridge, sewer network monitors, and water level sensors throughout the town focused on surface water levels in highway drains. By monitoring this data the agencies can gain an early indication of any issues that could arise, and take action accordingly.

Should action need to be taken in the event of wet weather, the plan outlines how the partners will swiftly deploy their various capabilities, and sets out how their collaborative, integrated response will help protect the town.

Part of the response will be the use of a number of dedicated pumps that will allow storm water, which is prevented from going to the river due to high levels, to safely drain away and prevent flooding to the town centre. The council will install pumps at London Road and Weaver Way and United Utilities has pumps at Baron’s Quay and Dock Road. Together, the 12 pumps have the capacity to pump around 1,000 litres per second. The Environment Agency also has pumps on standby which will be deployed throughout the town if needed, adding to a combined effect equivalent to the contingency that was in place last winter

The ‘dry run’ of a flood situation this month will give the partners the chance to see how the response would progress and assess the pumping and other activities before they are needed. They will run through the whole flood scenario but without the need to actually pump any water.

Rose McArthur, Director of Transport and Highways at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Given the increase in extreme rainfall events, it’s important that we practise what would happen in the case of flooding. Over the past year we have boosted the information on our website to help residents. We’ve also been working closely with United Utilities and the Environment Agency to prepare for any such flooding events, and this is the most recent example of this joined-up, multi-agency approach.”

Craig Connor, Wastewater Drainage Area Manager at United Utilities, said: “A partnership approach to tackling flooding is crucial to ensure we can respond quickly and thoroughly, so it’s fantastic that we have been able to support the council and Environment Agency to set out this comprehensive plan.

“We used pumps last winter with great success and that same capacity has been installed again to help keep homes and businesses safe, with the monitoring used to help inform when and where action would need to be taken.

“The live exercise will help ensure we are as prepared as we can be and to test out our equipment and processes before they are needed.”

Ollie Hope, Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “We sympathise with everyone who has been affected by past flooding events in Northwich. We have been working hard with partners to understand what happened during those events and to address those issues going forward.

“The £7 million Northwich Flood Defence Scheme has significantly reduced the risk of flooding to properties however we are committed to doing whatever we can to reduce flood risk, from all sources, even further.

“That’s why we are working closely with a number of partner organisations to explore all possible actions, large or small, that will help drive down flood risk.

“It is important to recognise that we can’t stop all flooding, especially given the increasingly extreme weather we are seeing as a result of climate change. We would urge everyone in Northwich to sign up for our free flood warning service and prepare a flood plan so that they know what to do if flooding occurs.”