Severn Valley Water Management Scheme

Closes 31 Dec 2023

Opened 7 Dec 2020

Overview

Last updated:  29 July 2021, next update due: 27 September 2021

1. Water management of the River Severn

2. Background to the water management scheme

3. Proposed scheme details

4. Timescales – What are we doing and when?

5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Water management of the River Severn

The River Severn forms an integral part of life for those who live around it. Over the years it has been a haven for wildlife, an essential transport route, a great place for leisure activities and a vital source for water for people living and working in its catchment.

Those who live with the Severn, know that for all its benefits, it also comes with its challenges. There is a long history of flooding along the River Severn and those who live and work in the area know all too well that the impacts can be devastating. As well as affecting homes and businesses, impacts to transport and commuter routes in and around settlements can result in significant disruption.

Most recently the floods that occurred in the winter of 2019/20 resulted in approximately 1600 homes across the River Severn catchment being flooded, causing significant damage and creating a lasting impact on the local economy. Though existing defences along the River Severn prevented a further 14,500 homes from being flooded, many communities and urban centres still remain at risk.

Shrewsbury Feb 2020

In addition to the devastation caused by floods, we have also experienced periods of prolonged dry weather in recent years, resulting in restrictions to local water use. Climate change will only increase the impact and the frequency of these extreme weather events in the future.

2. Background to the water management scheme

Previous extremes in weather, and the resulting impacts, have identified the need for investment in water management, ensuring we can conserve water in periods of prolonged dry weather, but equally allowing the water to pass through quickly and safely during wet periods. In response to the winter 2019/20 flooding, funding has been awarded to investigate a holistic water management scheme. We are now investigating options to unlock further funding from multiple sources, including FCERM (Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management) Grant in Aid funding (Government funding for flood risk management).

On the 27th of July 2021 Minister Pow visited the area and talked to some of our flooded communities and partners. During the visit it was announced that Government has allocated £10m of growth funding to support the development of the Severn Valley Water Management scheme.

Alongside this, and additional £4.5m will be invested in smaller projects within the Severn Valley to help support local issues and begin building long term resillience, using natural flood management techniques such as floodplain reconnection, wetland creation, woody debris dams and woodland planting to ‘slow the flow’ of water.  These funds are confirmation of the announcement made last year to support our communities at greatest risk from flooding.

This funding supports monies already made available to the Environment Agency of £10m and up to £1.5 respectively to develop a longer term 2100 climate strategy for the wihole of the River Severn catchment and a Defra Adaptive Pathway pilot looking at how to better invest the funding available in the future to tackle flood risk.

3. Proposed scheme details

Our aim is to make the Severn Valley more resilient to climate change by adopting a range of measures that will work together. We are looking at a wide range of options to reduce flood risk, manage water resources and as far as possible reduce the scale of hard engineering required.

We have already spoken to many communities and listened to your views. Our immediate focus is on engaging with communities in the upper catchment, taking on board their knowledge, views and ideas which will inform the wider solutions we investigate. We are working with the National Flood Forum to support this engagement.

To help us, please access our online mapping tool where you can upload photos and share your thoughts and experiences. This can be found here. We anticipate our initial investigations across the wider catchment, will take until early 2022 to complete. At that point we will share our proposals more widely, although much of this will already have been discussed with communities and partners as we progress. The scale of the flood risk problem is significant and will only increase as a result of climate change, meaning that it is still almost inevitable that engineered solutions will be required somewhere in the catchment. The below visualisations demonstrate the potential increases in flood risk that could be experienced in the future were no action to be taken.

Potential flood water heights in a 1% Annual Exceedance Probability event (I.e. an event with a 1 in 100 chance of occurring in any given year).

 

The levels shown include the predicted impacts of future climate change. We will now look at further options and combinations of options to reduce flood risk, manage water resources and enhance the environment. These options could include engineered solutions such as the construction of flood walls and embankments; natural flood risk management measures that slow the flow of water upstream such as tree planting or the creation of leaky dams; alternative farming and land management practices; operating reservoirs in a different way; and other storage options across the catchment. We are also working closely with Severn Trent Water and Water Resources West, to identify opportunities for securing future water resources within the catchment.

We are all too aware of the challenges along the whole length of the River Severn. The intention of the SVWMS remains to reduce flood risk to up to 3000 homes, support future growth and job creation as part of a green recovery, and drive efficiencies to the public purse by partnering with other organisations. Any proposed scheme will also consider opportunities to incorporate sustainable water management, deliver environmental improvements and promote health and wellbeing.

We have already started talking with partners. If you feel your organisation could be part of this discussion, and you have not been approached by us yet. Please do contact us to discuss your views and suggestions.  As mentioned above, initial engagement with communities and partners has already begun and we continue to welcome your views on how we can shape our proposals. If you have any further questions or comments, please contact our Public Liaison  Officer through the contact details provided on the top right hand side of this page. We may not be able to respond straight away, but please rest assured all views will be considered as the project progresses.

4. Timescales – What are we doing and when?

We are currently engaging with communities and partners to develop a greater understanding of what is happening across the entire upper Severn Catchment area. We expect to have an initial overview of possible measures by early 2022.

A more detailed analysis of those proposals can then be carried out.   We have already started to communicate with a number of partners and community groups and this will continue throughout the development of the scheme. As mentioned above this is a perfect time to share your initial thoughts, as this will help us shape our studies as we progress. Please do not hesitate to use the contact details listed at the top of the page to get in touch.

5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We have produced a FAQ document for this scheme found here, answering most of the questions we have received to date. This is available at the bottom of this page. This document will be added to and updated as the scheme progresses, so please continue to refer to the FAQs if you have any questions.

Give us your views

Keeping you informed and talking with you is very important to us and we will continue to provide updates to you through this website.

Throughout the development of the scheme you will have the opportunity to share vital local knowledge, as well as your ideas for the future of the River Severn.

Please keep visiting this page as we will be updating it regularly. This page will be open to the public throughout the lifetime of the project. If you want to share your views, please contact our Public Liaison Officer, who's details are on the top right hand side of this page.

You can follow us on Twitter too at @EnvAgencyMids as we will be tweeting about the work we are doing on this scheme. 

Audiences

  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • All water abstractors
  • Environment Agency customers
  • IDBs
  • Local authorities
  • District and parish councils
  • Environmental bodies
  • Land owners
  • Farming associations
  • Drainage associations
  • RFCCs
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Water companies
  • Members of the public
  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Community groups
  • Flood action groups
  • Members of the public
  • Community groups
  • Non-governmental organisations with an interest in environmental issues
  • Environment Agency colleagues
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities
  • Local Risk Management Authorities
  • Flood Resilience Forums
  • Members of the public
  • Town and parish councils
  • Regional Flood and Coastal Committees
  • Internal Drainage Boards
  • Engagement specialists/operational staff in Natural Resources Wales, local authorities and other risk management authorities

Interests

  • Flood management
  • Water resources