Residents on Tyneside are to benefit from a package of flood reduction schemes that are bringing organisations together across the region.
Officers from the Environment Agency are working with Newcastle City Council, Northumbrian Water, Gateshead Council and communities to reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses.
The schemes include raising the height of two bridges across the Ouseburn, reviewing the drainage system in Newcastle and Gateshead, and working with residents to keep their local streams free from blockages and rubbish.
The schemes are being carried out by a range of organisations and are part-funded by Local Levy money which is raised from local authorities, and co-ordinated by Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee through the Environment Agency.
Levy programme manager Peter Kerr said: “The causes of flooding can be extremely complex and in many cases cannot be fixed by simply building a flood bank.
“Over the last few years we have not only seen flooding from watercourses increase but also from surface water. One lesson we have learned is that organisations must work together to reduce flood risk, and these partnership projects are a vital step towards achieving this.”
Earlier this year, Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee announced it will raise £2.3M from local authorities to fund a range of schemes for 2009/10.
Last year the levy fund was £1.9M, but the committee agreed to raise the amount by 20 per cent for the new financial year.
One complex issue which the committee and its partners are tackling is the Ouseburn which flows through Newcastle. During heavy rain, water from the river backs up into the drainage system in some areas, and the drainage system simply struggles to cope in other areas.
A total of £75,000 in levy money has been given to Newcastle and Gateshead councils through the CityFlood Project which will part-fund modelling and investigation work. This will enable experts to learn more about urban watercourses such as the Ouseburn and the River Team. They will also look at the impact the watercourses have on drains, and plan actions to manage surface water flooding.
The committee is also contributing up to £150,000 to Newcastle City Council to raise two bridges across the Ouseburn, which will help to reduce the risk of flooding to up to 30 properties. This is in addition to £170,000 over two years, which will be spend addressing run-off from the Kingston Park estate and rural areas upstream of the A1, which will reduce river levels further downstream.
A total of £120,000 will also be spent over the next three years on the Environment Agency’s Living Waterways project. The Environment Agency is working with Northumberland Wildlife Trust to reduce flood risk from urban streams in Newcastle and Gateshead by involving communities in their upkeep and improving natural habitats.
The Northumbria Local Levy is used to fund projects that might not be eligible for national funding, and to deliver a range of locally important work on flood response, climate change action and comprehensive approaches to flooding on rivers.