The Environment Agency is appealing for help from historians, landowners and communities in the Calder Valley to help produce a detailed map of old land drains, goits and mill ponds to determine whether they could be brought back into use to aid the fight against flooding.
The valley is known to have an extensive network of historic field drains and industrial water infrastructure and the Environment Agency is keen to tap into local knowledge to pinpoint exactly where it all is.
Andrew Coen, the Environment Agency’s lead engineer for the Calder Catchment, said:
A number of local people and landowners have asked whether we can make use of the large network of historic but now redundant water infrastructure which was built in the 19th century to power local mills.
Although we have a lot of information about the Victorian water infrastructure, there will undoubtedly be features which have not been mapped but which are still known by local people. Some of these could be significant in helping us to work out whether they could be upgraded and used again manage flood risk in the valley.
We are also keen to learn more about existing and historic land drainage systems so we can better understand the role they have now and the role they might have in the future to help reduce flooding.
As well as identifying the locations of the old water control structures and drains, the Environment Agency is seeking details of their depth, size and condition.
We would like to build a comprehensive map of this surviving infrastructure and the local knowledge of landowners, farmers, historians, hikers, builders and members of every community in the Calder Valley will be essential in helping us to gather the data we need.
It is not currently known how much, if any, of the area’s historic water infrastructure could be potentially re-used to manage flood risk or whether the benefits of bringing certain parts of it up to modern standards would be cost effective.
Following last December’s devastating floods in the Calder Valley, the Environment Agency was asked by the Secretary of State to put together a detailed Catchment Plan to manage and reduce the risk of flooding in Calderdale over the next 25 years. The plan has been put together by the Environment Agency, its partners and the community through a series of workshops over the summer. The plan will be published in full in October.
Creation of a map of the historic water infrastructure which may contribute to future flood risk management is just a part of this far reaching and complex piece of work.
If you have information about any historic water infrastructure, land drains, ponds or any other assets which you think could be used to manage flooding, please let the Environment Agency know.