More than 1,000 homes at risk of flooding in St Albans: council warns

A flooded section of Noke Lane

A flooded section of Noke Lane - Credit: Archant

A snapshot of flooding problems in St Albans shows that over 1,000 properties are at risk of being inundated during periods of heavy rainfall.

The flooded Dyke Lane next to the Wicked Lady pub

The flooded Dyke Lane next to the Wicked Lady pub - Credit: Archant

Both Herts county and St Albans district councils have been examining flood risks, impact, damage, costs and the ideal response from both authorities.

District councillors at a recent environment scrutiny committee meeting received a report saying that St Albans was susceptible to three types of flooding – surface, river and from reservoirs.

The duty to protect properties from flooding rests with the owners and occupants of premises.

But the local council does provide flood protection barriers, which absorb water and are an alternative to the traditional sandbag.

A daffodil grew out of one of the blocked drains in Park Street

A daffodil grew out of one of the blocked drains in Park Street - Credit: Photo supplied

In his report, infrastructure manager Laurence Pratt said 1,141 properties are at risk of flooding – mainly in the vicinity of three main local waterways, the Rivers Colne, Lea and Ver.

He said that while both councils were trying to address surface water flooding issues, “as the global climate continues to change and heavy rainfall becomes a regular occurrence we are likely to see an increase in flooding affecting the district.”

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He pointed out that it was Herts county council’s responsibility – and not the district’s – to fund projects relating to highway drainage problems, a bugbear in this area.

As previously, and regularly, reported in the Herts Advertiser, Mr Pratt also said that in recent years heavy rainfall and incidents of flash flooding at various locations “have become more frequent. Existing drainage systems continually struggle to cope with the excess surface water runoffs.”

Councillor for Colney Heath, Jamie Day, told the commitee: “One thing I have noticed is a lot of the gullies that have been cleaned have subsequently filled with leaves, and they are not shifting the water off the roads quickly enough. Leaves block up the gullies, and then water goes onto the roads.”

Cllr Sandra Wood (Wheathampstead) added: “My concern is, what sort of resources have we got, as a district council, to get drains checked for blockages to ensure they don’t flood? Because that is a real issue with us.”

Mr Pratt replied: “We don’t have a responsibility for the maintenance of the highways. That is the responsibility for the county.”

Verulam councillor Jessica Chivers said Herts council needed to clear more weeds from roadsides as, apart from being “unsightly from an aesthetic point of view, [they] also cause problems with drainage”.

The committee was told that a survey completed by about 300 people in the south of Harpenden before Christmas showed, “the number one issue was the gutters and the debris on the streets.”

Last year councillors were asked to identify the worst affected properties in their wards, and bid for funding to carry out preventative flood relief work at sites suffering multiple flooding incidents.

A capital budget of £100,000 was to be set up from savings in other capital budgets for flood alleviation measures such as soakaway drainage systems, retaining walls and sandbags.

Cllr Anthony Rowlands (Ashley) urged officers to finalise which schemes the money would be allocated for.

• Herts council recently said that, following 300 flooding incidents across the county in June 2016 after a severe storm, a more comprehensive map showing flood risk assets and gully cleansing was being developed.