A £500,000 scheme to reduce the risk of flooding to a Leeds community badly hit by the 2007 floods has finished.
Work completed by the Environment Agency on Wyke Beck has reduced the risk of flooding to 70 properties on the Dunhill estate area of Halton.
The beck, which is a tributary of the River Aire, cuts through the eastern suburbs of Leeds and, in some places development had crept onto the channel which restricted the flow of water.
The beck is crossed by several bridges which also restricted the flow of water during storms, and the watercourse responds quickly during heavy rain which makes it more difficult for the Environment Agency to anticipate where problems may occur.
The work involved moving the beck back to its original position, removing over 300 tonnes of material and widening the channel.
Heavy rain puts scheme to the test
The new scheme was put to the test only recently on 21 June this year, when heavy rain fell in the area and the newly widened channel managed to hold all the water, preventing flooding to homes.
Environment Agency project manager John Woods said: “We’ve been working with the residents of the Dunhill’s estate area of Halton for several years on the best option to tackle flooding from Wyke Beck.
“Now it is complete, this project will help to reduce the risk of flooding and the distress it brings for people in the Dunhill’s estate.”
While the main parts of the scheme have finished, officers will be returning in autumn to remove vegetation in the upstream section of the Dunhill’s estate, which will further reduce the risk of flooding by increasing the amount of water the beck can hold.
Resident and chairman of Dunhill's Flood Action Group, David Davenport, said: "We have worked with the Environment Agency since the last floods to prevent a recurrence of the misery we experienced in 2007. This is the first time that the channel widening works have really been tested and it seems they passed the test. We’ll continue to work closely with the Environment Agency to maintain these improvements, and press for them to be made even better whenever possible."
Local resident and flood warden Tracey Simpson said: "The recent heavy rain made the beck the highest it has been since it flooded us in 2007, but the works done by Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency appear to have worked and stopped the beck from overtopping. It was a great relief that there was no flooding this time."
A gravel trap has been put in the beck to stop gravel being washed along the beck and being deposited on the bed, which can reduce the amount of water the channel can carry.
A new flood warning siren has also been installed for the estate. The siren can be activated along with a flood warning from the Environment Agency’s incident room in Leeds to alert residents as quickly as possible when they are at risk of flooding.
Residents most vulnerable to flooding have also had doors and airbricks on their properties fitted with flood guards as a result of partnership funding.
Work on the scheme started in July 2010 and has cost £500,000, funded by the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.
Arthur Barker, chair of the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, said: “The Wyke Beck scheme is another good example of how the Environment Agency and local councils are working together with local communities to provide greater protection from the risk of flooding.”
Properties at Wyke Beck have flooded three times in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
The Environment Agency encourages everyone to check their risk of flooding online and sign up to the free flood warning service if you are at risk.