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Building the Olympic Park on this flood plain has consequences

At 7.20am on Saturday 1 February I received an automated phone call, at home in Lower Clapton in Hackney, from the Environment Agency warning me about the high risk of flooding from the River Lee. At the same time I received this email from them:

floodline@environment-agency.gov.uk
To Me
Feb 1 at 7:23 AM
A Flood Alert has been issued by the Environment Agency for the Lower River Lee from Hoddesdon to Canning Town.

Flooding is possible for The Lower River Lee from Hoddesdon to Canning Town including, Cheshunt, Enfield, Edmonton, Tottenham, Walthamstow, Hackney, Stratford and West Ham.
this morning.

Low lying land and roads will be affected first.

Be prepared to protect yourself, family, pets and property.

The River Lee has responded to rain that has fallen throughout the night and in the early hours of this morning.

This is likely to result in flooding to lower lying land, roads and gardens next to the river. Surface water flooding can also be expected in some locations.

Further showers are expected throughout Saturday. We will continue to monitor the situation.

- Prepare a flood kit including a torch, batteries, mobile phone, warm clothes, water, food and any prescription medicines you may need.

- Avoid walking, cycling or driving through flood water.

- Keep an eye on local water levels and weather conditions. Visit the Environment Agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk for river level and flooding information.

- Call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 using quickdial 172095 for up-to-date flooding information.

Stay tuned to radio weather, news and travel bulletins on LBC 97.3 FM and Digital Radio.

Contact:
Environment Agency South East
North East Thames Flood Warning Duty Officer
Area Incident Room
2 Bishop Square
St Albans Road West
Hatfield, Herts. AL10 9EX
Floodline 0845 988 1188

Please do not reply to this email. If you want more information about flooding or to stop receiving these emails, please phone Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or log onto Floodline Warnings Direct at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/floodline.

I then checked their website for recent levels of the River Lee at their measuring station at Walthamstow Low Hall. This is the data location which indicates the state of the river nearest to where I live.

 Recent River Lee levels at Low Hall Environment Agency data station. Recent River Lee levels at Low Hall Environment Agency data station.

I then got on my bike to go and have a look.

This is what I saw:

 Flooding of the Old River Lee on the East side of Hackney Marsh below the Flood Relief Channel outlet and upstream from the White Bridge at 10.20 1 Feb 2014.Flooding of the Old River Lee on the East side of Hackney Marsh below the Flood Relief Channel outlet and upstream from the White Bridge at 10.20 1 Feb 2014.

Further downstream at Ruckholt Road this is what the clearly audible and powerful torrent looked like rushing under the bridge.

 Torrential River Lee creating noisy turbulent wakes from the Ruckholt Road bridge pillars. 10.40 Feb 1 2014 Torrential River Lee creating noisy turbulent wakes from the Ruckholt Road bridge pillars. 10.40 Feb 1 2014

 Downstream view from Ruckholt Road bridge with (L -R) bank reinforcement works, the A12 Eastcross Route and the Olympic Velodrome in the distance. 10.50 Feb 1 2014 Downstream view from Ruckholt Road bridge with (L -R) bank reinforcement works, the A12 Eastcross Route and the Olympic Velodrome in the distance. 10.50 Feb 1 2014

The flood management system for the River Lee inside the Olympic park includes floodable wetland areas which are designed to slow down the rate at which water will flood surrounding areas and those further downstream.

 Three of the overflow relief wetlands built into the Olympic Park. Three of the overflow relief wetlands built into the Olympic Park.

However the higher the meandering River Lee rises in its wide flood plain, under these recent weather conditions of long periods of exceptionally high and frequent rainfall, the much greater are its sustained high volume rates of flow. Under these conditions these flood relief wetlands will fill in a matter of minutes. Which means that in practice these Olympic Park wetlands are little more than a hostage to fortune. Many more absorbent and soft containment measures need to be taken mainly upstream to slow the down-rushing torrents which appear to be an increasingly frequent climatic consequence.

 Twig debris across the path marks the high water flood level in the Olympic Park. 11.30 Feb 1 2014Twig debris across the path marks the high water flood level in the Olympic Park. 11.30 Feb 1 2014

 Funny how they can't bring themselves to use the word FLOOD in this situation where the impounded river has no tide. Funny how they can't bring themselves to use the word FLOOD in this situation where the impounded river has no tide.


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