Work has begun on dredging the Cripps River on the Somerset Levels, as part of a Somerset Rivers Authority plan to improve flood defenses across the county.
Desilting of the full 1.6 miles of the Cripps is being done by the Environment Agency on behalf of Somerset Rivers Authority, with long-reach excavators being used on both banks by a team of four.
The Cripps connects the River Brue with the Huntspill, just down to the south-east of the M5 near Highbridge and up to the north-east of Bridgwater.
It is used by the Environment Agency as a channel for moving potentially huge amounts of water from the Brue down to the Huntspill or from the Huntspill up to the Brue. Operations are controlled via sluices and Gold Corner pumping station, which dominates the junction of the Cripps, South Drain and the Huntspill.
John Osman, chair of Somerset Rivers Authority, said: “Working with our partners on the project is a good example of how Somerset Rivers Authority is providing communities across Somerset with higher standards of flood protection than national funding normally allows. Every month, we’re doing more work to improve our defenses.”
The de-silting of the Cripps is part of a long series of dredging activities that includes last year’s 8km dredging of the Parrett and Tone, this Autumn’s 2.2km maintenance dredging of the Parrett, new dredging in the New Year of 750 meters of the Parrett near Northmoor, desilting 4km of Hixham Rhyne near Cheddar and 41km of main drain across the Levels and Moors.
While dredging the Cripps, the Environment Agency is also going to investigate whether Cripps Sluice is still needed in its present form or whether it has become an impediment to flow.