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Better flood defences help keep homes dry
DEFENCES built to prevent devastating floods like those seen in Oxford five years ago have kicked into action.
Environment Agency staff yesterday highlighted their improved flood defences as they keep a close eye on water levels on the River Thames.
A series of rivers and tributaries across Oxfordshire remained on Flood Alert last night, the lowest level of warning, which indicates that low-lying ground and roads could be flooded.
The band of rain that swept across the South East on Monday night and yesterday brought less rain than predicted, about 10mm (0.4in).
More rain will fall later this week, with the Met Office expecting up to 20mm (0.8in).
Environment Agency flood risk manager Peter Quarmby said: “Our teams have been out monitoring river levels, checking flood defences and removing blockages that may increase the risk of flooding.
“The River Thames will continue to rise over the next few days but we don’t believe this will cause any major issues.”
Agency river engineer Andy Robinson was out inspecting trash screens at culverts under Willow Walk in Oxford.
He said: “The culverts carry water across the flood plain when river levels are high and that helps to protect properties. At the moment we don’t think there’s a likelihood of the Thames flooding in Oxfordshire.”
Nick Hills, of Earl Street, off Botley Road, praised the agency for building the culverts last year. Willow Walk connects the Osney Mead industrial estate and North Hinksey.
The 63-year-old said: “My home flooded in 2000, 2003 and 2007. The agency has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to improve the flow of water from the flood plain, which is spilling over from the Seacourt Stream.
“The agency carried out the work after consulting the Oxford Flood Alliance and it’s reassuring for residents at times like this. The culverts have been quite full, which shows they are working.”
The culverts are part of a £616,000 scheme to protect homes, including about 100 off Botley Road. In 2008, the agency spent £1.8m to ease pinchpoints in watercourses at Redbridge and on flood barriers for Osney Island and South Oxford.
Thames Water said on Monday that Oxfordshire still needs five times the rainfall it got in April before it could lift the hosepipe ban.
Last month 119mm (4.7in) fell, but this was only one-sixth of the deficit after the two driest years on record.
Thames Water director of sustainability Richard Ay-lard said: “We have had a seriously soggy April. The rain is a temporary and welcome boost for the environment and wildlife, not a long-term fix for water supply.”
Met Office spokesman Charlie Powell said: “There will be sunshine and showers today, rain tomorrow and more rain could arrive at the weekend.”
County council spokesman Paul Smith said its emergency planning team was monitoring developments so it could help residents if necessary.