Following heavy rain leading to high river levels across Oxfordshire over the festive season, householders and businesses could see the risk of flooding reduced after Oxfordshire was awarded £3 million to help prevent sewers flooding by preventing excess surface water from entering the sewer system.
Oxfordshire County Council, as the lead Local Flood Authority, led a successful bid with Cherwell and Vale of White Horse District Councils for the funding from Thames Water. The two districts will each receive £1.5m towards projects to tackle the problem over the next five years.
Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “I am delighted that Oxfordshire County Council, working in partnership with Cherwell and Vale of White Horse district councils, has managed to obtain this funding from Thames Water. It will allow us to focus on reducing the flood risk from surface water and, in doing so, will lessen the impact on Thames Water’s systems.”
The funding will enable the councils to explore schemes to tackle the safe disposal of rainwater, which can overwhelm the sewer system and lead to flooding in homes, businesses, and the environment.
Sustainable drainage solutions, such as rain gardens and using green spaces to temporarily store rainwater after heavy rainfall, mimic nature by absorbing rain into the ground or slowing its journey to drains and sewers.
As well as reducing flood risk, this approach also provides wider benefits, such as improving the local environment, reducing air pollution and helping biodiversity.
Councillor Colin Clarke, Lead Member for Planning at Cherwell District Council, said: “This funding will help us plan for the future and create solutions that will make it less likely that homes and businesses in our area will experience flooding. We will be working closely with residents and other public bodies to put the funding into action in the way that best meets local need.”
Councillor Catherine Webber, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Flooding can have devastating effects – on homes, on businesses and on our natural world. By doing something to help stop preventable flooding, such as this, we can take a real step towards protecting our local communities and our local environment.”
Over the next five years, Thames Water – which also awarded £1.5m each to Hounslow and Lambeth Councils – will be employing a number of schemes to reduce the amount of surface water entering the sewer networks.
Krishna Ramjeeawon, Programme Manager for Thames Water’s surface water management programme, said: “Finding innovative and eco-friendly ways to manage surface water and protect homes from flooding is central to what we do.
“Working in collaboration with these councils, who are already improving our streets and urban places, will help us find creative ways to manage surface water drainage in areas where our sewers have limited capacity to deal with excess water flows.”