18th October 2018
Changes to water management in the South Forty Foot Catchment
A partnership including the Environment Agency (EA), Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board (IDB), Lincolnshire County Council (LCC), Boston Borough Council (BBC), Anglian Northern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), the Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) has been working to review how water is managed in the SFF Catchment near Boston.
This partnership is working together to investigate ways to further manage flood risk across the catchment, including that to agricultural land. Work has already begun to strengthen banks along the South Forty Foot Drain, trial ways to slow the flow of water in the upper catchment to better protect rural homes. During this work it has been decided that a pumping station that has rarely been used for the last 70 years will be decommissioned.
The pumps at Black Sluice pumping station in the South Forty Foot catchment have remained idle for more than 98% of the time since it was built in the 1940s. Rigorous studies have shown that decommissioning the pumping station won’t increase flood risk to local homes or businesses, and using the adjoining sluice and navigation lock when flows on the South Forty Foot are high will manage flood risk more effectively. This approach was used to successfully discharge the water out of the catchment during a period of heavy rain early this spring.
Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Norman Robinson, Environment Agency Area Director, said:
“Together, we’re taking a strategic, partnership approach to manage flood risk and water resources into the future.
“Local people can rest assured they won’t face higher flood risk when the pumping station is decommissioned. On the contrary, this decision means we can invest where it will do the most good to protect people, homes and businesses in the South Forty Foot catchment from flooding – and find long-term ways of safeguarding important agricultural land.”
Over the next few months, the partnership will work with Heritage Lincolnshire to consider the future of the pumping station building – and it could even become a heritage hub or a community educational resource.
In 2015, the pumping station was included as part of a wider public consultation on flood risk across the catchment. As a result, the EA, Black Sluice IDB and other partners worked closely to explore funding to allow the IDB to take over management of the pumping station.
However, a thorough review found that the substantial cost to refurbish and maintain it did not offer a significant benefit for the wider area. Instead, the partnership will invest the money across the catchment where it will be more effective at reducing flood risk.
The Environment Agency will continue to manage the waterway for navigation, allowing boats to travel through Black Sluice lock and onto the South Forty Foot Drain.
The partnership will offer public drop-in sessions at the Boston Community Hub on Marsh Lane, Boston on a Wednesday from 12 till 7pm.
Cllr Colin Davie, Lincolnshire County Councils portfolio holder for Economy and Place, said:
"Using the sea lock to provide a greater capacity for discharging water from the catchment is an innovative, environmentally sustainable and cost effective solution and is fully supported by this Authority".
Speaking as one of the partners, Ian Warsap, Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board Chief Executive, said:
“Following several years of assessing the effectiveness and efficiencies of the pumps when in use during a tide locked high flowing fluvial event, we have determined that larger quantities of flood water pass through the combined gravity sluice and navigation channel once the tide has turned than can be pumped. We are therefore convinced, as are all our partners, the decommissioning of the pumps is the most realistic way forward.
We are pleased to see that the Environment Agency have improved their operating instructions to maximise fluvial discharge through the combined gravity outfalls in high flow events, based on earlier trigger levels in the South Forty Foot Drain.
Black Sluice IDB therefore endorse, along with all our partners, the joint decision made to decommission the diesel pumps at Black Sluice Pumping Station (Boston).”