Can you flood-proof your city? Here's what they are doing in the UK

Wed, 2016-06-08 06:00 -- Doug Peeples


If your city is fortunate enough to have never experienced a catastrophic flood, don't think it can't happen. Just ask the residents of Northwood, a subdivision in Gulfport, Mississippi. Flooding had happened before, but residents said they had never been through what
heavy rains and an overflowing creek brought to their community in late April as buildings flooded and cars were submerged under water. Stories like Northwood's are becoming increasingly common as weather patterns change and excessive rainfall and swollen rivers bring damage to personal property and infrastructure (think washed out roads, outages from downed power lines and contaminated water supplies, to name a few).

That's why we wanted to share what Council Lead Partner CH2M is doing in the UK with several projects to protect personal property, infrastructure and lives against severe flooding. But one key point in the news release below may be one city leaders hadn't considered: among the flood protection projects is one located in a flood plain where substantial economic growth is anticipated within the next few decades. That's right. Flood protection assessments can be about ensuring future economic growth, too. — Doug Peeples


CH2M Expands Flood Management Expertise in Europe with Project Wins across the UK

DENVER, June 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Environment Agency (England) recently awarded CH2M two significant flood defence projects, Bridgwater Tidal Barrier Appraisal and conducting the Avonmouth-Severnside Enterprise Area Ecology Mitigation and Flood Defence study.

"These contracts build on CH2M's strong relationship with the Environment Agency and our extensive portfolio in UK flood risk management," said Peter Nicol, CH2M Global Water Business Group President. "We have a long history of working with the Environment Agency on successful projects to protect local communities from flooding and natural disasters, and these new projects will continue to enhance the region's resiliency towards future events."

CH2M will lead the River Peffery Flood Protection and Natural Management study, which involves designing flood risk solutions and providing technical support services for Dingwall and Blairninich, two areas vulnerable to fluvial flooding.

Under the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier contract, CH2M will appraise design options and develop the business case for a tidal surge barrier that will provide a long-term solution for the protection of approximately 8,500 properties and more than 600 businesses, in Bridgwater and surrounding communities, for the next 100 years. Looking at a range of possible locations, gate arrangement and operating regimes for a barrier, CH2M will conduct an 18-month study to evaluate water levels, silt and navigation; assess the environmental benefits and impacts of the scheme; and evaluate opportunities to maximize benefits to the local community through regeneration. Following the study, CH2M will assist in the development of the Transport and Works Act Order to achieve UK Government approval to enable construction of the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier by 2024, in alignment with the Somerset Levels and Moors 20 Year Flood Action Plan.  

Additionally, CH2M will lead the Avonmouth-Severnside Enterprise Area Ecology Mitigation and Flood Defence Project to evaluate a holistic and comprehensive approach to flood risk and ecological mitigation in the Avonmouth-Severnside Enterprise Area in the West of England, which lies within the tidal and fluvial flood plain of the Severn Estuary, the River Avon and various other minor watercourses. With significant economic growth expected over the next few decades, the area's future economic development potential relies on a comprehensive approach to flood risk which will not only benefit local, regional and national businesses but also improve protection for up to 3,500 properties located in the flood plain.

In addition to the work CH2M is delivering for the Environment Agency, the firm was also recently selected to provide similar services to Scotland's Highland Council. Continuing under the Scotland Excel Engineering and Technical Consultancy Services framework awarded to CH2M in 2013, the firm will lead the River Peffery Flood Protection and Natural Management study, which involves designing flood risk solutions and providing technical support services for Dingwall and Blairninich, two areas vulnerable to fluvial flooding. The study builds on CH2M's successful delivery and management of major flood management projects in Scotland, including the award-winning White Cart Water flood protection scheme.

From the Smart Cities Readiness Guide…
Want to learn more about smart city approaches to flood protection? The Water and Wastewater chapter of the Readiness Guide offers guidance on solutions and tools cities can use to map strategies for incorporating flood protection with other city services and public safety systems. One example is the discussion on predictive analytics, a tool cities can use to optimize their operations and make them more responsive. Learn how it can be used to analyze smart water infrastructure data and weather data to provide an early warning system for where floods are most likely to occur.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.