In November 2008, West Berkshire Council (WBC) was one of six local authorities awarded funding from Defra to undertake a Pilot Surface Water Management Plan for Thatcham to investigate the causes of widespread flooding and identify options to reduce the risk of surface water flooding in the future. Following the award of the Defra funding, WBC invited key stakeholders to form a partnership and set up a steering group to oversee the production of the plan. The SWMP partnership was led by WBC and included Thatcham Town Council, the Environment Agency and Thames Water Utilities.
Whilst the Thatcham SWMP was developed as a pilot study for Defra (which will be used as an example for other authorities starting SWMP's of their own), the aim was always to ensure that a tangible action plan was identified that could be taken forward with the aim of reducing and managing flood risk in the future. This was developed in the form of an Action Plan within the SWMP.
The Action Plan included proposals to construct detention basins in and around Thatcham as the main engineering intervention. These were designed to store and control the discharge of water into sewers to prevent them becoming overwhelmed and causing flooding as well as intercepting the main overland flow routes which was the cause of the vast majority of the flooding in Thatcham in July 2007. This was combined with a range of softer measures which involve the wider community and SWMP partnership to manage flood risk in perpetuity.
The presentation will provide a brief overview of the SWMP going into detail on the Action Plan that was developed and the measures that were proposed to mitigate surface water flood risk within Thatcham. This will include details of the proposed capital schemes as well as softer options and the role of the local community and Thatcham Flood Forum.
The presentation will also report on the progress of the SWMP Action Plan to date and the challenges presented in arriving here. For the capital schemes this will include the design of the basins and the role of the Reservoirs Act Panel Engineer in this process in terms of design requirements.
Further challenges will include funding, landowner preferences and compensation, environmental mitigation & enhancement, earthworks and public attitudes toward the schemes. It will discuss how these challenges were managed, the impacts for the schemes and the lessons learnt for future schemes.
Finally, the presentation will discuss the future work to complete the Action Plan as well as additional schemes that have been identified as the projects have progressed. This will include softer measures such as rural land management and Natural Flood Management and how these can support the capital schemes.
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