Ouse Washes Roads Flooded once more

Heritage Lottery FundJust this morning, the Welney Causeway was shut down for the third time this winter – this may well be an all-time record. As road closures due to flooding of the Ouse Washes affect local communities directly, I thought to get this message out quickly.

This winter has seen a particular high number of days in which the roads crossing the Ouse Washes have been closed off due to flooding. See my previous post on an earlier road closure this winter which turned out to be the second longest in history.

untitledWhen the Ouse Washes are flooded above a certain level, the road crossings at Welney and Earith will have to be shut down. The Welney Causeway was shut this morning, following a ‘severe’ flood warning. The Earith crossing currently has a ‘medium’ flood warning; according to the latest news from the Environment Agency the Earith causeway is still open. Check here for the latest updates.

To the right is an image of the current situation at Welney, as of 5:30 this morning. See here for more information, or see here for similar images for up-to-date information on other river level measuring points further south along the Ouse Washes (at Welches Dam and Sutton Ghault).

So, why do we get flooding in the Ouse Washes? The main reason is that – in times of high rainfall further inland – the water in the Great Ouse river rises. Once it reaches a certain level at Earith, water is automatically diverted and allowed to flow into the Old Bedford river, Vermuyden’s early seventeenth century masterpiece. From here, the washes in between the Old and New Bedford rivers are flooded. This prevents flooding of towns and huge stretches of agricultural land elsewhere.

More about how all of this works and the decision-making processes behind all of this in due course. For now, click on the below Environment Agency map to get a first idea of how the whole Ouse Washes water flow system works – it is rather complicated but also quite ingenious:

blogwashes-schematic_jpg

Schematic layout of the Ouse Washes flood system. It also shows the relatively few crossings over the washes. Source: Environment Agency and http://www.ousewashes.info. Click on the map to enlarge.

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About markatousewasheslps

Programme Manager for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme, leading on the 1-year development and 3-year delivery phases of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant-aided Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme, on behalf of and in close cooperation with a wide range of local, regional and national partner organisations. The Ouse Washes LP centres around a portfolio of projects which focus on: conservation works to historic and natural environmental assets; improving community participation & engagement with the landscape and its heritage; increasing access and learning opportunities; and providing more opportunities for training in traditional land management skills. The overall aim is to leave a long-term legacy for this fascinating and unique landscape, in the process creating tangible improvements to social, economic and environmental aspects of this landscape, its heritage and communities. Find out more about the landscape, the aims of the project and the partnership by following our: Blog, http://ousewasheslps.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @ousewasheslp

One thought on “Ouse Washes Roads Flooded once more

  1. Following this post, Chris Holley alerted me to the news that there are now firm plans in place to install electronic flood-depth warning signs, to give drivers advance warning when the Welney Causeway is closed.

    At a meeting on Friday between local MPs, councillors, Environment Agency and campaigners, Norfolk County Council agreed to spend £20,000 on three electronic signs; these will give real-time flood status updates, alerting motorists to the depth of the water and allowing them to make decisions on whether to drive through flooding. One sign will be positioned at the Lotts Bridge Crossroads, one at the March Road junction and one at the Welney Bridge.

    Although there is still a clear need for a long-term solution to the problem, at least this should address some of the local concerns: local people have criticised use of metal road signs which have remained on display even when the road is passable.

    Two related news articles on this:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21895708
    http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Ely/Electronic-signs-will-tell-motorists-when-A1101-at-Welney-is-flooded-20130322162910.htm

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