The great deluge: how excessive rainfall has flooded parts of district
- Credit: Hillary Childs
Exceptionally high rainfall over the winter has left parks across the district with large areas still underwater - but what is being done to tackle the issue?
With the Met Office reporting regional rainfall in excess of 200 per cent of average in October and twice the normal amount in January, this resulted in saturated and water logged ground, which inevitably led to localised flooding and higher river levels.
At Verulamium Park, the River Ver breached its banks, overwhelming the capacity of the lakes, leaving footpaths unpassable and public toilets flooded.
On the Alban Way, a section of the disused railway line in Smallford was impassable for several weeks, a stretch several hundred metres long was at a depth of over two feet, causing major disruption to the popular walking and cycling route.
There was also flooding at St Albans locations including Burydell Lane and Cottonmill Lane allotments, and Rothamsted Park in Harpenden.
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Because the district council does not have a dedicated flood management service, it relies on the support of the Environment Agency and Herts county council, and will work with these bodies to try to ensure that necessary maintenance work is undertaken to help manage future flood events.
Cllr Anthony Rowlands, portfolio holder for leisure, heritage and public realm for SADC said: “The flooding of parts of Verulamium Park is due to the recent high level of the River Ver and is outside our control.
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“The Environment Agency is responsible for the management of our rivers and we have had extensive discussions with them about the flooding at the park as well as at some other locations in the district.
“We appreciate that the underlying cause of the flooding is the higher than normal rainfall and there is little the Environment Agency can do about that.
“However, we will remain in continual contact with them and press upon them the need to consider long-term improvements to flood prevention.
“In the meantime, we have taken a number of measures to mitigate the impact of the flooding at the park.
“This includes fencing off areas that have been badly affected, putting up warning signs and maintaining the sluice gates at both ends of the artificial lakes.
“I know the park flooding is an inconvenience to our residents, but it does not appear to be causing any major damage and I’m sure people will understand that we are doing all we can to limit the impact and keep them safe.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We know the devastating impact that flooding can have, which is why protecting people and communities is our top priority. Our teams have been working round the clock to monitor river levels, provide flood warnings, clear blockages, and operate flood defences.
“We know that the prolonged and exceptional wet weather this autumn and winter has resulted in a lot of distress to the allotment holders in St Albans. We are in regular communication with both Herts county council and St Albans district council and are working closely together on the concerns.
“We would encourage anyone who is concerned about flooding to sign up to our flood alert service at gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings.”