Major project planned to protect Bucks residents from impact of flooding

Buckinghamshire is to get a major chunk of government funding to spend on major projects to prevent and alleviate flooding incidents caused by groundwater flooding.

It follows a successful bid by Buckinghamshire Council and partners for a multi-million pound fund for a six-year project called ‘GRACE’ (Groundwater Resilience & Community Engagements). The scheme aims to transform how flooding from groundwater is managed and mitigated by both authorities and communities.

While this winter the worst flooding incidents have occurred in the north of the county especially around Buckingham, these are linked to river flooding and are being addressed with the Environment Agency, which is responsible for waterways including the River Great Ouse in Buckingham.

Groundwater flooding, however, is the main reason for flooding in the chalk regions in the south of the county and the project aims to tackle it through techniques like innovative monitoring using sensors in the road gullies, modelling, mapping plus new warning systems and supporting community action – all of which are designed to lessen the impact of groundwater flooding in the future.

One of the most exciting features of the project is a new app, which will warn local communities about flood risks and which areas are in danger of flooding. Buckinghamshire Council is working on the ‘GRACE’ project with numerous partners across the Chilterns and Berkshire Downs areas, including other councils, the Open University and several local flood groups.

Ian Thompson, Buckinghamshire Council’s Corporate Director for Planning, Growth and Sustainability said: “We’ve seen in these last few months just how terrible the impact of flooding can be and we seize every opportunity we can to find ways of protecting our communities from flooding, whatever the cause.

Because the Chilterns are chalk, the area is more prone to groundwater flooding.

This is a long-term scheme which tackles groundwater flooding in the Chilterns from a variety of angles, together all aimed at ultimately building resilience to lessen the impact, through stopping flooding in the first place, and ensuring effective warning systems are in place when and where there is a risk.”

The GRACE project has several innovative strings to it, including:

  • Partnerships with local communities
  • Investigating and developing responses to the mental health impacts of flooding
  • Using new highways gulley sensors for monitoring
  • New modelling and mapping of groundwater flood risk areas
  • Developing a new groundwater flood alert system
  • Researching and improving flood resilience measures in properties
  • Identifying and trialing Natural Flood Management measures to reduce groundwater flooding