Monitor boost for river that caused devastating floods

Homes underwater during the devastating Boxing Day floods in Whalley in 2015.
Homes underwater during the devastating Boxing Day floods in Whalley in 2015.
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An organisation, that has been working all year round to make sure the devastating floods of last year do not happen again, was given a boost this week.

Flood and pollution specialists, Detectronic, are supporting the Ribble Rivers Trust by providing monitoring equipment for its ‘Ribble Life Together’ Heritage Lottery Funded project.

The £371,500 project aims to achieve a healthier water environment for the benefit of everyone within the Ribble Catchment by improving its natural heritage and is being delivered in partnership with other organisations operating within the catchment.

Devastating floods wreaked havoc in Whalley and Billington on Boxing Day last year when heavy rainfall caused the River Calder, a major tributary of the River Ribble, to burst its banks.

Gareth Jones, Sciences Co-ordinator for the Ribble Rivers Trust, said: “Healthy watercourses and the land surrounding them provide many important benefits such as reduced flood risk, cleaner bathing waters and valuable tourist attractions.

“But according to recent assessments, two thirds of the catchment’s watercourses are failing to meet good ecological status for a variety of reasons.

“In order to raise this status and better manage the catchment, we are to create 15 new wetlands and best recognise the benefits that they will bring by developing an understanding of the hydrology at particular sites. This is where Detectronic come in.”

Detectronic have installed two level and velocity flow sensors above and below the site in question, together with a rain gauge. This on-site monitoring equipment provides vital information that enables daily monitoring of the waterflow.

Gareth added: “Such regular monitoring enables us to compare flow and level data for given rain events and help to illustrate what we want to do with the site and why.

“Thanks to this data, at the end of the development phase we will have a comprehensive evaluation report and be able to inform of the benefits wetlands can bring.

“The monitored wetland will also be developed as a site for visiting school groups to use as a teaching resource where they can observe a variety of creatures.”

Commenting on the project, Steve Woods, Managing Director at Detectronic said, “Detectronic is significantly increasing its pro-active involvement in monitoring programmes such as this.

“Without meaningful data, it’s almost impossible to prove that wetland projects and other sustainable drainage system interventions are achieving their desired attenuation outcomes with respect to flood prevention and flood-risk reduction.”

Along with leading a clear up operation after the Christmas floods the River Ribbles Trust has led a series of projects to boost those worst affected by the disaster.