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Letter: River Management Practices Need Urgent Review

Published on: 8 May, 2020
Updated on: 8 May, 2020

Flooding at Stoke Lock, February 2020.

From Jim Allen

In response to: Farncombe Boat House Family Tells of ‘Devastating’ Effect of Weir Collapse and ‘Official Silence’

For many years as a member of the Burpham Flood Forum, I have been complaining at the excessive speed the Wey navigation has run during flooding. We have lost tens of trees below Stoke Lock, Guildford, washed away by excessive currents. Bowers Lock weir/sluice had a 12-foot deep hole upstream of it, when the navigation was only four feet deep for 400 years.

The washed-away banks caused by failure to understand this water system lay clearly at the feet of The National Trust and the Environmental Agency. They failed to ensure automated level control was fitted to the weir/sluice gates during their replacement of the gates along the navigation, thus ensuring water speed and levels are not left to humans living miles away from the sluice operations.

The borough council failed to follow guidance from the Environmental Agency to ensure the balancing sluices halfway between the main sluices and flood plains are operated correctly so when the water rose the 40cm (designed levels), excess water went into the “natural flood plain” and not straight down the navigation to Send and beyond.

One 12-acre section of the flood plain below Guildford fails to accept flood waters due to poor maintenance of overspill levels and the navigation floods the tow-path instead. Failure to ensure the over-spill ditches are maintained and kept free-running also causes the excess water in the main channel.

GBC has a considerable responsibility for insertion of a trapezoidal weir into the mill race stream, when the hydro generator was installed, blocking full flow through the mill race, resulting in sedimentation and in more than the design weight of water going over the tumble weir at right angles to the natural flow.

All these agencies should work together with a Burpham resident who is a PhD hydrologist to sort the whole navigation, solve flooding erosion and correct water flows before this treasure is lost forever.

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test One Response to Letter: River Management Practices Need Urgent Review

  1. Cameron Brown Reply

    May 9, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Excellent letter from Jim Allen. We have been badgering the Environment Agency and Surrey CC for years about the blocked drainage ditch ‘The Broad Ditch’ in Wisley, very close to Pyrford Lock. They should be obliging the local landowners to keep the ditches clear.

    When the flood plains don’t get flooded the water has to go somewhere else. Wisley residents have managed to do this since the iron age.

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