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River Lowman dredged to cut risk of flooding

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: December 11, 2012

By David Shepherd

  • Top: an excavator and a lorry clear a channel through the lowman. Below, the huge build-up of silt under Lowman Green Bridge

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WORK to reduce the risk of flooding in parts of Tiverton began last week when tonnes of silt were dredged from the River Lowman in a four-day operation.

A JCB was used by Environment Agency staff to remove 16 lorry loads of the mineral each day after a natural build-up was beginning to slow the flow of water.

Most of the excess silt was found near the bridge at the junction between Gold Street and Station Road and the agency said it is "currently developing other improvements to defences on the Lowman."

Paul Gainey, an Environment Agency spokesman, said: "We used JCB diggers to remove the silt and place it into the back of lorries.

"Our teams had noticed the flow of water had slowed down because of the silt build-up and there was a potential risk of flooding if there was more heavy rain had it not been removed.

"More rain could have caused problems and we have been taking advantage of the drier weather to remove the silt," he added.

The work began on Tuesday last week and was completed on Friday, which resulting in 48 to 64 loads from being removed from the river.

The River Lowman was 5ft higher than its normal level and it burst its banks during heavy downpours in October.

Lowman Green was under several feet of water and at its height, the river was close to breaching the flood wall at Chapel Street and it was a matter of inches from lapping over the nearby bridge.

It was said to be the worst flooding in that part of the town for around a decade and water almost entered the Inn on the Green pub and Swinton Insurance opposite.

A number of homes on Chapel Street were flooded and residents rallied around to distribute sandbags. According to agency flood gauges, the river peaked at 2.06m, a foot under the record for that location.

Betty Delling, who lives in the area, said: "We do not want water in Chapel Street again, high enough to cause four railway sleepers which were guarding two scaffolded sites to float off down the street."

Many residents still have sandbags on their doorsteps in the event of more heavy rain, but they were spared by the downpours between November 20 and 23.

The Environment Agency dredges the river annually but weather conditions delayed the work this year, the spokesman said.

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