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Flash event delays flood defence installation

INSTALLATION OF demountable flood defences at Bewdley in Worcestershire was delayed last month after a flash flood inundated the town.

Environment Agency flood defence contractor Birse was installing piles on the town's quayside when water engulfed the quay and nearby houses.

German foundation firm Bauer's IBS flood defence system is being installed to protect Bewdley from events just like this. The system consists of aluminium posts and horizontal beams that can be quickly fitted to unobtrusive permanent ground beams in times of flood and stored off-site when there is no immediate danger (GE August 2001).

Birse is installing raking piles to support the ground beams and a contiguous pile cut-off wall founded in rock below the river bed. This will prevent water flowing though the highly permeable gravel and alluvium beneath the defences.

The contractor was given 15 hours' notice that the river was due to rise 4.6m above normal levels, allowing engineers time to move the piling rigs out of the area. Floods in autumn 2000 reached 5.5m above normal levels.

But with the quay's hard standing removed as part of the piling works, it was left exposed to floodwater and putting houses behind in danger.

After the flood the EA said the quay had not suffered any damage.

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