Walham sub station flood works finished ahead of schedule
WHEN Gloucestershire was swamped by floodwater in 2007, 600,000 people in the county and beyond were within inches of losing electricity supply.
That's because the electric sub station at Walham, off the A40 Northern Bypass, didn't have effective flood barriers, and rising waters almost forced National Grid to switch it off.
But the Royal Engineers saved a crisis from becoming a catastrophe with a temporary wall, then operators National Grid, and the Environment Agency knew they had to do more to protect this vital asset.
Now that £5.5million of work has been finished, ahead of schedule.
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"The temporary barrier that was put in by the Army has served its purpose well," said a National Grid spokeswoman. "But we needed a permanent solution. We have put measures in place that will make sure that the sub station is protected from future flooding, and ensure electricity supplies remain as reliable as we want and expect them to be."
Work started in July 2012 and was expected to be completed by the end of the Autumn this year, but it was finished last month.
Steel piles were driven into the ground, around the one kilometre-long perimeter of the site, to form a base. On top, a cast concrete flood wall was built. New pumps were also installed, just in case the new measures aren't enough.
Although that's unlikely, Anthony Perry, Environment Agency flood risk manager, said there is always a risk of the flooding of 2007. But Gloucestershire is far better prepared.
"It was an extraordinary event in terms of rainfall – more so than in 1947 which was more to do with snow melt," he said. "But these events can happen and we have made sure people are prepared for them. It's about managing risk – there has been a substantial amount of work done by the Environment Agency, Severn Trent, utilities, local authorities and individuals."
In Longlevens, 350 homes are protected by improvements to the Horsbere Brook, similar work on the Daniels Brook in Quedgeley protects 250 homes, two flood storage areas have been improved in Saintbridge, and culvert work on the River Twyver and Sud Brook protects another 250 homes.
Another sub station at Port Ham, near the Lower Parting of the River Severn was already protected – in 2006 it was raised, which meant unlike the Castlemeads and Walham sub stations, it was out of harm's way.