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Yorkshire Water launches initiatives to help reduce flood risk

Yorkshire Water intends to trial a change in how some of the reservoirs above Hebden Bridge are managed this winter. The trial involves a reduction in the levels in some of the reservoirs above Hebden Bridge to allow for flood storage.

The move is part of a series of measures planned that will help slow the flow of flood water in the Calder Valley, west Yorkshire. Other measures have entailed the first of up to 200,000 trees being planted.

Also, initiatives such as leaky dams and 43 hectares of blanket bog restoration will be introduced to the moorland to help reduce flood risk to places such as Todmorden, Mythmolroyd and Hebden Bridge.

Yorkshire Water has been working with the Environment Agency (EA) and Defra since the Boxing Day 2015 floods to understand the wider implications that changes in reservoir operation could have on water supply in Yorkshire. Whilst this longer-term work is continuing, Yorkshire Water will trial this new approach to help clarify whether it is feasible and whether a longer-term change to reservoir operation is possible.

Granville Davies, Yorkshire Water’s asset strategy manager, said: “Last weekend we saw once again how quickly the valley reacts to heavy rainfall and this work at Gorpley, alongside the change in approach to managing some of our reservoirs, will ultimately help to slow the flow of water down the valley.

“Flooding has devastated parts of Calderdale and the threat of another flood event is still ever present. It’s been a wet summer for us in Yorkshire and we’ve taken the decision to act now to provide some upland storage for any further storm events this winter. These measures are part of a wider range of actions being taken to reduce flood risk in the Calder Valley.”

Above Todmorden, the landscape around Gorpley reservoir will be transformed with a pioneering Natural Flood Management plan that will involve 7,500 trees and 3,500 hedge plants being planted this November with the help of local organisation, Treesponsibility. This is just a small part of the overall plan for Gorpley that has been developed in partnership with the White Rose Forest. Over the next five to ten years, the landscape around Gorpley reservoir will be dramatically improved with 43 hectares of blanket bog restoration, to keep the moorland like a sponge, and 60 hectares of environmental improvements such as leaky dams, fascines and wetlands to slow the flow of water.

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