19th September 2021

Dredging to continue next month to reduce risk of Somerset flooding

Somerset Rivers Authority is to mark the successful completion of 2.2km of maintenance dredging along the River Parrett, by following on with 750 metres of new dredging.

The Parrett Internal Drainage Board and the Environment Agency have worked as Somerset Rivers Authority partners to make sure that dredging continues as efficiently as possible, with only a break for Easter and site and compound handovers.

The dredges are designed to reduce the risks of flooding and protect Somerset people – their homes, businesses and roads.

The Parrett Internal Drainage Board was funded by the Somerset Rivers Authority to specify and supervise maintenance dredging upstream of Northmoor Pumping Station.

It’s the biggest dredge the Parrett Internal Drainage Board has ever done.

Equipment used included a 300-tonne crane, a 45-tonne excavator with a reach of 22 metres, and a tug boat for pushing and pulling hopper barges loaded with silt by machines placed on floating pontoons.

Cllr John Osman, Somerset Rivers Authority chairman, said:

“Many thanks to the Parrett Internal Drainage Board for managing the delivery of this vital piece of work on time and within budget – and to the Environment Agency for supporting this maintenance dredge on a main river. It’s a splendid example of partners working within the Somerset Rivers Authority to protect Somerset communities.”

Peter Maltby, Parrett IDB chairman, said:

“I’m very proud of the work that the Parrett Internal Drainage Board and our contractors WM Longreach have done for the Somerset Rivers Authority and the people of Somerset. We’ve done a lot to maintain the benefits of the £6million dredging of the Parrett and Tone that was done after the awful floods in 2014.”

New dredging downstream of Northmoor pumping station is due to begin in April.

Somerset Rivers Authority funding has enabled the Environment Agency to award a contract for designing and carrying out this project to Galliford Try, Black & Veatch and Land & Water.

These two companies completed the 8km 2014 dredge of the Parrett and Tone.

Work over the next few months will mostly be done from floating platforms on the river, with a short section being completed from the bank.

The Somerset Rivers Authority is working on a dredging strategy to establish the most cost-effective techniques and sites for future schemes.

To achieve further benefits, the Somerset Rivers Authority is also funding the monitoring of silt build-up so that future maintenance dredging can be done at the best times and locations.

The Somerset Rivers Authority’s 2015/16 interim funding from the Government, Somerset councils and the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium, plus the Somerset Rivers Authority’s Growth Deal money from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, are being used to pay for the 2.2km maintenance dredge and the forthcoming 750m new dredge.