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Catchment Management

Helping to slow the flow in Hebden Bridge

This winter we’re trialling a change in how we manage our reservoirs in the Hebden Bridge catchment to play our part in reducing flood risk in the area. We’ll be reducing the levels of the reservoirs above Hebden Bridge to allow for flood storage, and will help us to understand if it is feasible and whether a longer-term change to reservoir operation is possible.

Since the Boxing Day 2015 floods, we’ve been working with the Environment Agency, Defra and United Utilities to understand what potential there is across the region for using reservoirs for flood storage, whilst also taking into account drinking water supply, reservoir safety, and environmental factors. This was not an exercise that could be done quickly as it is complex. Safety is absolutely pivotal for us, and we could not do anything that would put the structural integrity of any of our reservoirs at risk.

Whilst we’re continuing our longer-term work to understand the regional implications of managing reservoirs differently, we’re now in a position to trial this different approach to reservoir management for the Hebden Bridge reservoirs.

The existence of the reservoirs above Hebden Bridge already helps to provides some flood protection to Hebden Bridge as they help to slow the flow of water even when they’re full. However, we’re now trialling an innovative pilot to increase the flood protection these reservoirs already offer.

We started the trial in December and we intend to manage the reservoirs in this manner until the spring. The Environment Agency believes that this trial will help to reduce the peak flows in Hebden Water and ultimately help reduce flood risk.

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