Water company to trial change in managing reservoirs

Yorkshire Water is introducing a series of measures to help reduce the risk of flooding in Calderdale, west Yorkshire

The first of up to 200,000 trees were planted last week (27 October) as part of the pilot landscape project, in a bid to slow the flow of flood water in the Calder Valley.

The water company will also be working on leaky dams and the restoration of 43 hectares of blanket bog to the moorland to reduce the risk of flooding in places such as Todmorden, Mythmolroyd and Hebden Bridge.

Alongside this landscape project, Yorkshire Water will trial a change in how some of the reservoirs above Hebden Bridge are managed this winter. This will involve reducing reservoir levels to allow for flood storage to determine whether a longer-term change to reservoir operation is possible.

The firm has been working with the Environment Agency and Defra since the Boxing Day 2015 floods to understand the wider implications that changes in reservoir operation could have on water supply in Yorkshire.

Granville Davies, Yorkshire Water’s asset strategy manager, said: “Flooding has devastated parts of Calderdale and the threat of another flood event is still ever present. It’s been a wet summer for us in Yorkshire and we’ve taken the decision to act now to provide some upland storage for any further storm events this winter.

“These measures are part of a wider range of actions being taken to reduce flood risk in the Calder Valley.”

Above Todmorden, the landscape around Gorpley reservoir will be transformed with a natural flood management plan that will involve 7,500 trees and 3,500 hedge plants being planted this November with the help of local organisation, Treesponsibility.

Yorkshire Water said, “this is just a small part of the overall plan for Gorpley that has been developed in partnership with the White Rose Forest”.  

Over the next five to ten years, the landscape around Gorpley reservoir will be improved with 43 hectares of blanket bog restoration, to keep the moorland like a sponge, and 60 hectares of environmental improvements such as leaky dams, fascines and wetlands to slow the flow of water.

Gorpley reservoir is already used by the Environment Agency for flood attenuation. As this reservoir is not used for water supply, the Environment Agency alter the release of the water to maintain the reservoir at 73 per cent full or below.

Yorkshire Water recently announced it plans to remove its offshore banking arrangements in the Cayman Islands and simplify its finances as part of a long-term drive to enhance service for customers. 

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