Severn Valley Water Management Scheme

Closes 31 Dec 2027

Opened 7 Dec 2020

Overview

Last updated:  September 2022, next update due: December 2022

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)

Project Updates 

September 2022

A catchment wide approach is necessary to make meaningful long-term change to flood risk in the Upper Severn. We are continuing to work with communities and partners to investigate the available options.
Over the past few months, the Environment Agency have undertaken a significant amount of analysis to build a clearer picture of current conditions across the entire Upper Severn Catchment area. We have started to consider ways in which resilience to future weather extremes can be enhanced, through a range of different actions within the catchment area. To do this, our team have collected and processed over 150 datasets and built new data tools to enable us to explore future solutions.
We have engaged with community and professional partners and linked in with national and international initiatives to understand ways in which others are managing water at a catchment scale like this.
We had initially anticipated that an initial overview of our investigations would take until August 2022 to complete. However, we are still gathering the information we need to better understand the opportunities and the scale of the intervention that would be required to support communities at flood risk across the Severn Uplands. This is taking a little longer than anticipated, we hope to be in a position to share some outline information with communities by the end of 2022. 
Please read Section 3 below for more information and an update on the Proposed Scheme Details.

June 2022

This month saw the launch of the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme (SVWMS) Crowd Reporter mapping tool.
The tool enables members of the public to submit descriptions and pictures of localised flooding.
Residents are encouraged to use the tool to help the Environment Agency build a detailed picture of where flooding occurs across the Severn Valley catchment.
Users can also submit ideas for future projects, locations of local or historical importance and any other general comments they have about the project. Users can submit information, photographs or drawings by clicking on a location and entering a description. There is no limit to the number of submissions that can be made or when the flood took place.
Access Crowd Reporter here.

March 2022

We are currently working on the outline business case to progress the study. This is due to be completed in the Summer.
The business case will be used to define the scope of the study in more detail, help us understand the amount of work required and how it can be taken forward. The business case will also incorporate estimated costs and help us identify where further funding may be required.
Once approved, the studies associated with the business case will be publicly available. In addition to the feasibility studies mentioned above, a landscape visioning document will be published and consulted on in the Summer.
This will illustrate the extent and type of work proposed across the catchment. When published, this document will be aspirational providing an overview of potential interventions, which will then evolve as the project develops.

 

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 of 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 be significantly disrupted.

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. Similar flood events were experienced in 2021 and in 2022, and three of the five largest flood events experienced on the upper and middle Severn have occurred in the last three years.  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 and even droughts 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 water to be managed effectively and passed down the catchment safely during wet periods.

In response to the winter 2019/20 flooding, funding was 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, an additional £4.5m is being invested in smaller projects within the Severn Valley to help support local issues, begin building long term resilience and to enable the testing of key concepts and ideas that will be needed if future delivery of the SVWMS is to be successful.  These smaller projects will be focussed on using natural flood management techniques such as floodplain reconnection, wetland creation, woody debris dams and woodland planting to ‘slow the flow’ of water.  

This work will complement other Environment Agency projects.  These include development of a longer term climate resilience strategy for the whole of the River Severn catchment and an Adaptive Pathway pilot looking at how to better invest the funding available in the future to tackle flood risk.

3. Proposed scheme details

This scheme is intended to be a catchment wide programme of water management interventions. The development and composition of that programme is still being investigated and will require considerable engagement with partners, communities, and potential funders.

Over the past few months, The Environment Agency has undertaken a significant amount of analysis to build a clearer picture of current conditions across the Upper Severn catchment. We have started to consider ways in which resilience to future weather extremes can be enhanced, through a range of different actions within the catchment area.  To do this, our team have collected and processed over 150 datasets and built new data tools to enable us to explore future solutions. We have engaged with community and professional partners and linked in with national and international initiatives to understand ways in which others are managing water at a catchment scale like this.

The output of this work is a clearer understanding of the opportunities and of the scale of intervention that would be required to support communities at flood risk across the Severn Uplands. It considers ways in which nature-based solutions and innovative engineering could come together to provide increased resilience.  The outputs of this process will come together to form:

  • A Strategic Study - setting out the “art of the possible” and the justification for further development of the required interventions; and
  • A Landscape Vision - demonstrating how solutions could be embedded effectively within the catchment in such a way as to contribute a wider variety of benefits both locally and regionally.

As the project has developed, we have been engaging with communities, supported by the National Flood Forum. They have been working with us and their existing groups, whilst also supporting the development of new Flood Action Groups where required.  Our focus throughout these discussions has been to better understand the requirements of local communities; something that we will continue as the project develops.

This is further supported through the release of our latest “Crowd Reporter” tool where you can share thoughts, ideas and images: https://severn-valley.virtual-engage.com/.

The image below demonstrates the scale of water storage that will be required to provide significant flood risk reduction across the Upper Severn catchment:

Image showing that the amount of water storage required to provide significant flood risk reductions across the River Severn is 57 Wembley Stadiums or 43 Principality Stadiums full of water

As we develop our thinking, and seek views from stakeholders across the catchment, we will start to formalise the programme of measures being considered. These measures 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 Severn Valley Water Management Scheme will continue to take a collaborative, partnership approach aimed at reducing flood risk to up to 3000 homes, supporting future sustainable growth and job creation, and driving efficiencies to the public purse by working with multiple 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. 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?

Taking a genuinely catchment-based approach to water management is innovative and aspirational, and also the most likely way to secure the adoption of any interventions.  Previous attempts to develop localised solutions to flood risk in this catchment have been challenged on feasibility or affordability.  The approach being taken by the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme is to develop sustainable solutions that deliver multiple benefits, and which are attractive to landowners, communities, and investors alike, but these this will take time to explore.

Whilst considered the most appropriate approach to take in the face of an increasingly volatile climate, it is an approach that comes with challenges.  Technical and financial challenges of developing solutions at scale across a vast geography are matched by political and policy considerations that are neither simple nor quick to resolve.  With our wider partners, our project team are looking to address each of these challenges as pragmatically as possible in conjunction with developing the project itself.  It does mean that the release of certain information may be impacted as we work to present ideas and options that are both theoretically possible but also backed by a robust and comprehensive plan for practical delivery.

In the coming months, we will speak with individual communities; to explain the work we’ve done and an offer for people to join us to develop the next stages of the programme of water management interventions across the catchment.  We will endeavour to provide indicative timelines for our plans and to answer any questions that you may have, whilst providing regular updates through this website page; the next being scheduled for October 2022.

We expect the development of a strategy for the Upper Severn catchment to take place between 2023 and 2027. The delivery of a programme of works will depend on a number of factors. These are currently still being explored and are outlined briefly above. This timescale reflects the fact that this is a catchment wide programme of water management programmes.

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