News story

Exercise Wessex Flare pump test being held in Somerset

Following on from Exercise Wessex Teal, where the army practised with flood barriers, engineers will deploy one of the Agency's largest pumps.

Large blue-and-silver pump in foreground, loaded on the back of a lorry
This pump can throw enough water to fill 20 bathtubs a second and will be deployed in a dummy run called Exercise Wessex Teal

A high-volume pump used during major flood events will be tested in Somerset next week (4 to 6 April 2017) as part of Exercise Wessex Flare – a 3-day training exercise run by the Environment Agency.

The 24-inch diameter steel and alloy diesel pump is capable of pumping 1,650 litres of water per second – the equivalent of filling 20 baths in a second. It will be loaded onto an 8-wheel lorry at its base in Bawdrip village, and transported to the remote North Drain pumping station several miles away.

A team of incident operatives and experienced pump specialists from across the country will then attach the 12-tonne pump to 40 metres of pipework over a period of at least 8 hours before setting it in motion.

Operations manager Robbie Williams said:

Flooding can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and homes. We care about our communities and want to do whatever we can to help prevent this type of incident. Using pumps to manage water levels and reduce the impact of flooding is one of the many ways we can do this, alongside temporary defence barriers.

Preparing and practising pump deployment helps to ensure we act more quickly and effectively. It’s also an opportunity to develop knowledge and skills so people can confidently operate this type of heavy machinery nationwide, with the help of the military and other groups.

The exercise builds on Exercise Wessex Teal where Wiltshire-based soldiers were trained to deploy temporary defence barriers. Some of those soldiers will be on hand to watch the pump in action and learn how it works. The Environment Agency’s new Incident Command Unit (ICU) will also be on-site streaming live images of the exercise back to the Agency’s Bridgwater incident room.

The ICU serves as a mobile incident room and temporary headquarters for staff out in the field, enabling better site management, situational awareness and visibility in flood risk communities.

It is important everybody is aware of their own flood risk. People can find out how to get ready and check their flood risk on GOV.UK or calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

Published 31 March 2017