Flooding in Grindleford. February 2021

Sarah Battarbee is Clerk to the Council and the point of contact if you have any queries or suggestions grindleparish@gmail.com or 07753 134633.  John Mottershaw is our dedicated Councillor for flooding matters.  

We are all too well aware that Grindleford is a village subject to flooding.  There is a worrying trend that it is flooding more often, and more severely; since 2000 it has flooded three times, more than in the previous twenty years, with the one in 2019 being deeper and causing more damage than ever before.  

There were contributing factors to that last terrible flood; trees crashed down river to get lodged against the upstream side of the bridge, and there were issues about the reservoir management which may have contributed unnecessarily to the high water levels.  Knowing that didn’t help any of the twenty or so houses which were affected, some with submerged basements, some with whole ground floor living spaces destroyed and some with wet undersides to their floorboards, but having to cope with the mental anguish as they waited and watched. Of course there is the ever present danger that someone could even be swept away.  

The near miss of a few weeks ago could have been a lot worse, and tree clearance plus better management at the dams probably averted a full-on flood.  Even so, residents speak of the anguish of waiting to see if their houses, not all even restored from the last inundation, were about to go under again.  

The cost of repairing the damage is high, but the human cost is higher.  

Some Parish Council members are directly affected by the floods but all of us are deeply concerned about the impact they have on residents. 

Grindleford Flood Action Group, a group of residents with Parish Council representation, secured a meeting with Severn Trent and the Environment Agency.  It was a helpful and cooperative meeting and highlighted some of the problems of water management at the reservoir.  

In particular, legally binding agreement, made at a time before climate change upended all expectations, is restricting the Environment Agency’s flexibility to order the drawing down of water from the reservoir into the river to reduce reservoir levels in anticipation of overflow and consequent flooding.  To prepare for possible drought in the summer months, they are obliged to maintain the reservoirs at 100% from early in the year, leaving little margin if there is very heavy rain in the first few months of the year. 

These statutory levels, along with the time needed to order drawdowns, need revisiting as a matter of urgency.

The Council has written to Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council, who has responsibility for flooding measures.  We still have not had a reply and have asked our County Council rep to chase it up.  

The Flood Group also arranged a visit with the Environment Agency in Jubilee Gardens, which will be taking place very shortly.

So what next?    Councillors talk at most meetings about flooding, and about what more we can do locally.  Preliminary research suggests that there will little external funding available, so much of what we do will have to be supported from within the village, plus any grants we can drum up. However, pressure on potential grants will be high and increasing as climate change raises the prospects of further flooding elsewhere. Options which have been talked about include:

  • Reconfiguring Jubilee Gardens, to enable the water to return to the river at the earliest opportunity after the bridge.  There are a number of options on this and this is one of the main purposes of the upcoming meeting with the Environment Agency. 
  • Build up the bank along the track, to prevent flooding into basements
  • A strategic overhaul of drains and culverts (there might be some help from the County Council with this). 

Meanwhile the flood wardens, John Wood and Nick Bater, have been absolutely fantastic but are hanging up their galoshes after many years of rather unsung service.  The Parish Council would like to extend very sincere thanks for all their tireless efforts which have been a huge help to many people. They’ll still be out on a wet night of course and they and others will continue to monitor the riverbanks for fallen trees throughout the year, but the ceremonial wellingtons are now passing to Bob Wilson and John Baily.  Again, very many thanks to them for stepping up.  

Flood wardens will also be keeping sandbag supplies in hand, advising on flood plans and emergency measures, coordinating rescue efforts and helping residents to move furniture and get to safety in the event of another flood.  

Developments will be reported on this website so please do keep an eye on it from time to time. 

Sarah Battarbee 

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