This weekend saw an exciting milestone in the work I have been leading to tackle persistent flooding in Deal and to reduce the use of storm outflows. This work started in 2020, following a serious flood event in Deal’s Albert Road area. This area has been subject to persistent flooding for years and years. These flooding incidents often combined both rainwater and untreated sewage which affected local homes and streets.
Looking into the matter, the way forward had been looked at many times. It had been considered by a range of technical teams at Southern Water, Kent County Council as well as Dover District Council. Residents who had lived in Albert Road for a number of years also had significant experience of the issues as well as proposals.
I therefore pulled together the Deal Water Taskforce team with all the technical teams to understand what was happening with the Deal water system and what could be done to start to address this issue properly. The initial work was agreed to for 6 months. However, it has been so useful that the work has been extended and the Deal programme is now part of a national Pathfinder programme for water sustainability and storm overflow management.
An initial stage of work was to map the water systems supporting Deal. There are two different sewer and water management systems. Most of Deal and Walmer is covered by a combined system modelled on Bazalgette engineering, the Victorian drainage system for London. This system combines excess rainwater from roads and drains with the sewage network for treatment. If there is too much rainwater, then the system gets overloaded and there are a series of tanks under Deal together with a ‘pressure valve’ of sea storm overflows out to sea. The rest of Deal and Sholden is covered by a different style of water system, where the rainwater and sewage pipes are separated.
The question for the Taskforce was not a simple one. To reduce the flooding in Albert Road and manage storm surges, every part of the system was mapped and tested. A combination of engineering works, road works and water management approaches are being tested in the Pathfinder pilot work. One of these is involving the wider Deal area – that of ‘Slow the Flow’. This is a water management system which will reduce the amount of water going into the system at peak times by installing rainwater capture capacity in specially controlled water butts, planters and water gardens in key locations around Deal. There has been a really good take up by Deal residents to take part in the trial. By managing our water better, and with engineering upgrades, the pathfinder work should reduce flooding and the use of storm outflows in Deal, with the work set to inform water management across the country.