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Managing future flood risk

Plans for Boston's Black Sluice Pumping Station to be transferred from the Environment Agency to the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board are underway following a consultation looking at how to manage flood risk in the future.

A study of the catchment area began in 2012 to review how flood risk is managed and to prepare a business case to refurbish the Black Sluice Pumping Station. It became clear that the pumping station does not reduce flood risk to people and their homes, although it does reduce the amount of agricultural land flooded. This makes it difficult for the Environment Agency to attract Government funding. 

The study looked at what additional activity, on top of current maintenance, could help manage flood risk in the future and different ways forward for the pumping station. 

Although the tidal doors at Black Sluice close at high tide, stopping the Haven water from entering the South Forty Foot Drain, the Black Sluice Pumping Station can continue to pump out fresh water from the non-tidal

South Forty Foot catchment. Only two of the five pumps have been operational since damage caused by the 2013 tidal surge, although there has been no need to use these since then. 

Almost all of the time water flows through the sluices at low tide. The pumps are operated very rarely when high flows on the South Forty Foot Drain combine with high tides in the Haven - so normal gravity discharge from the South Forty Foot Drain cannot happen. In this situation, which on average happens three days a year, but may not happen for as long as five years, Black Sluice Pumping Station pumps river water into the

Haven.
More than 150 people came to see the EA and the drainage board and a total of 71 responses were received from councillors, organisations and the local community. 

Most people supported transferring the Black Sluice pumping station to the drainage board, followed by replacing two pumps to keep the current capacity. The options least supported were to do nothing and do the minimum, such as removing the pumps.

For the lower catchment, most people supported protecting low points along the South Forty Foot Drain main section, raised embankments and, followed by making flood products, such as flood gates, available to homes most at risk. 

For the upper catchment, most people supported increased channel maintenance downstream of villages, followed closely by slowing the flow upstream to hold water back, and making flood products available to homes most at risk. 

A pioneering new steering group - with an independent chairman - has been formed to ensure continued dialogue between everyone involved in managing flood risk in the future.

The EA and the drainage board will seek to identify funding for a two-year transition period for the Black Sluice Pumping Station to be transferred to the drainage board - to allow the board time to put longer-term funding plans in place. 

The EA and drainage board will continue with activities that can attract funding and fit within the strategic approach that the steering group will develop - refurbishment of drainage board land drainage pumping stations, protecting low points along the raised embankments from erosion, slowing the flow upstream of Swaton and surrounding villages and surveys to establish whether dredging would be beneficial.  

A plan to operate and maintain flood risk infrastructure e.g. embankments will be jointly written by organisations with powers to manage flood risk. This will help make sure all the funding that is available to organisations can be used in the most effective way to help reduce flood risk.    

A business case will be submitted in the spring 2016 to progress work that it has been demonstrated can attract full Government funding. This will include £2 million to protect the low points along the raised embankments from erosion. 

There are just under 1,000 properties at risk of flooding in the Black Sluice catchment - regardless of whether the Black Sluice Pumping Station is operating. Find out if your property is one of them by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or look online www.gov.uk/flood

You may be able to register for free flood warnings to let you know when flooding is expected that could affect your home. 

Questions and additional information should be directed to the project team by email BlackSluiceCatchment@environment-agency.gov.uk or call 02030 255031.