Groundwater Flooding in Hampshire & Land Subsidence in Berkshire
May 29th 2015
Large puddle in Hampshire village creates dispute over responsibilities
Two disputes have broken out with local authorities over problems caused by groundwater issues. In the first case, residents in the village of New Cheriton on the South Downs have been concerned about a large puddle on the main road that goes through the village. The puddle ices up in the winter and causes problems for motorists and pedestrians. It appeared a year ago shortly after the road was resurfaced.
Chair of Kilmeston Parish Council, Michael Curtis, said the cause of the problem is a pond 500 yards down the road, which has been accumulating silt over the years and needs dredging. The pond is the source of the River Itchen. Dredging the pond would increase its capacity to hold groundwater, Michael Curtis said. His diagnosis was confirmed by Southern Water, but a spokesperson for the water company said that groundwater flooding was not their responsibility. Speaking to the Hampshire Chronicle, the spokesperson said: “The authority with responsibility for developing strategies to deal with groundwater flooding is Hampshire County Council – not the water company – so on this occasion we cannot help further.”
However, a spokesperson from Hampshire County Council said that the source of the problem was a natural spring which drains onto the road. The spokesperson explained that the spring gives out a small but persistent flow of water. The recent resurfacing work was carried out to manage the problem by directing the water away from the centre and to the side of the road. The Council said that following recent concerns “engineers will be visiting the site again to see if anything else can be done to improve drainage along the side of the road.” For the full story see the Hampshire Chronicle.
Local council in Berkshire is forced to publish report on land subsidence
In a second dispute, Newbury Town Council has been forced to publish a hydrogeological report into the causes of land subsidence in Victoria Park. The subsidence caused cracks to appear in playing fields and sports courts and damaged boundary walls and nearby properties. The report, which was commissioned by Newbury Town Council five years ago, was only published following a Freedom of Information request from a Newbury resident.
The report says that building works by a contractor, which gave rise to a lowering of groundwater levels, is the most likely explanation for the subsidence. The Freedom of Information request went to an appeal in 2013, following the Council’s refusal to publish the report on the grounds that it could jeopardise ongoing negotiations with the contractor.
According to the Newbury Weekly News, the report concludes that “the extent of dewatering of the site, along with inadequate mitigation measures, make this the most likely explanation for the majority of the lowering of groundwater levels and the ground disturbance seen within Victoria Park during 2010.” For the full story, see the Newbury Weekly News.
Photograph: The South Downs Way near Ditchling Beacon © Copyright Marathon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Some parts of the UK are more prone to groundwater flooding due to the geology of the surrounding area, such as the predominantly chalk structure of the South Downs.