Dam saved 600 homes

Wigan residents take a look at the fast flowing River Douglas Dam, and the new flood scheme at work, at Bottling Wood, Wigan

Wigan residents take a look at the fast flowing River Douglas Dam, and the new flood scheme at work, at Bottling Wood, Wigan

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LAST month’s horrendous downpours may have caused motoring misery and encroached on a handful of homes - but it could have been worse.

In fact, it would have been a whole lot worse but for recently-installed flood defences.

The Environment Agency revealed today that it estimated that up to 600 houses were saved from devastating damage because of measures it took several years ago.

Almost unprecedented amounts of rain fell on Wigan, the borough seeing dropping on us in four days alone.

But the £12m Wigan Flood Risk Management Scheme, which was completed in 2011, protected hundreds of properties in the town from flooding from the River Douglas.

The Environment Agency said it is the second time this year that the scheme had come to the rescue, having been used in June and July this year, but the scheme dealt with higher water flows last month with the water levels in the storage reservoir only half a metre from the spillway when at their highest point.

Andy Brown, an Environment Agency flood risk manager, said: “The heavy rainfall we have seen last week has caused untold misery across the North West, not least in Wigan where large parts of the town were affected by surface water flooding.

“While the rainfall has caused these problems, the good news for communities in Wigan is that the town’s state-of-the-art flood risk management scheme protected more than 600 properties from flooding.

“The scheme has only been operating less than a year but it has already proved how vital it is as a system for managing flood risk from rivers.”

Wigan was also hit by surface water flooding, caused by drains being inundated and pools of water to close roads across the town.

The Environment Agency is working with Wigan Council to address some of the issues to ensure that potential risks are planned for.

Steve Normington, Wigan Council’s director of economy, said: “We sympathise with the situation local residents have experienced with the recent exceptional rainfall.

“We’re working with those whose houses suffered water damage and partner agencies to investigate ways of improving drainage systems to prevent a recurrence.

“While there has been considerable investment in flood defence and preventative measures recently, particularly with the building of the retention dam at Swinley, there is still more to do.

“We are working to resolve problems around the Saddle Junction and Beresford Street. This has involved physical works including the cleansing of culverts and drainage channels.

“We have also engaged specialist consultants to enable us to model the water flow around the Saddle area and devise a solution to enable water to be retained in areas where it cannot cause property damage.

“A draft scheme for this is currently being designed and we are seeking to implement some of this work as part of the Saddle Junction Improvement Project for implementation before the end of the year. This scheme should assist in resolving some of the problems experienced last week.”