River Parrett dredging begins

A new section of the River Parrett is to be dredged in the following days, Somerset Rivers Authority reports.

Somerset Rivers Authority

Large quantities of silt will be removed from 1.37miles (2.2km) of the river between the village of Moorland and the M5, to increase its capacity to carry flood water.

Dredging is due to start this week, Thursday, 14 January.

The project is being delivered for Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) by the Parrett Internal Drainage Board (IDB), working closely with the Environment Agency and Natural England, and using Growth Deal funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

Contractors Van Oord’s water injection dredging vessel Borr will shift around 22,000m3 of fine sediments from the bed of the Parrett, down beyond Northmoor Pumping Station.

Targeted jets of water will separate and mobilize particles so they can be washed away on the outgoing tide.

Cllr David Hall, Chair of Somerset Rivers Authority, said: “Work along this stretch of the River Parrett is important for three main reasons.”

“Firstly, it will reduce flood risks for properties in the Northmoor area.

“Secondly, it will help to reduce agricultural damages, particularly from spring and summer floods of the kind that we saw locally back in 2012.

“Thirdly, because of the better possibilities it creates for managing flows of water around the Somerset Levels, it will help us to make further improvements, like those planned for the River Sowy and King’s Sedgemoor Drain later this year. All these things together will benefit a large part of the Somerset Levels.”

The SRA has also been funding regular maintenance dredging, since 2016 using water injection dredging techniques.

Compared with conventional techniques involving big excavators, water injection dredging is less disruptive to residents and has less impact on the environment. It is also quicker and cheaper.