Natural Flood Management
Letcombe Brook Project work with partners such as the Environment Agency, VWHDC and Freshwater Habitats Trust to try and identify opportunities for Natural Flood Management.
At high flow, rivers would naturally spill into their floodplain. Due to the many developments that have taken place on the banks of the Letcombe Brook and compounded by past work to modify the banks and brook corridor, there are very few places where the brook is able to connect with its floodplain. Letcombe Brook Project will work with partners and landowners to explore opportunities to improve the connection between the brook and its floodplain and to control unsuitable development in the floodplain. We will also promote other natural flood management techniques designed to “slow the flow” thus reducing severity of flooding.
Slowing the flow is a fairly recent approach to flood control based on working with nature to try and store more water in the landscape and slow its passage downstream.
European Water Framework Directive (WFD) has shifted the focus from single remedies to a whole river catchment approach to water issues. On a local level Catchment Partnerships have been set up to lead and co-ordinate projects. Letcombe Brook is part of the Ock Catchment and the Catchment Host is the Freshwater Habitats Trust. LBP are a contributing member to this partnership.
The LBP Trust has set out long term aims for fundraising to research and implement Natural Flood Management techniques including:
- Altering land management to reduce run off by incorporating buffer strips and tree planting to reduce flood flows
- Creation of flood storage ponds to help store and slow water
- Use of leaky wooden dams to hold back water
- Encouraging better management of riverbanks and neighbouring land to reduce erosion and the amount of silt going into rivers
- Dealing with silt build up and blockages in key areas
- Leaving some obstructions to flow and vegetation in river channels to slow flow in some places and increase flow in others to enable the river to carry silt downstream
- Better management of road drains, culverts, trash screens and sluices
This approach will not prevent all flooding but is aimed at reducing the frequency and severity of future floods. Its success is dependent on working at a Catchment Scale and partnership working is critical to its success.
LBP are working hard to advise land-owners on best practice, develop opportunities to slow the flow and ensure flow control structures are operated properly. We also spend a lot of time with our great volunteer team removing litter and debris from Letcombe Brook whilst carrying out habitat management work to reduce erosion, silt build up and dangerous blockages.