A joint operation between councils and the military started today to prevent flooding from shutting down a waterworks that serves thousands of homes on the county border with London.
In response to record water levels caused by rainfall on the Caterham Bourne, a joint emergency project by Surrey, Tandridge and Croydon councils, plus the military and the Environment Agency, is working to:
· Prevent around 47,000 households’ water supply from being cut off
· Stop further flooding to around 450 homes
· Re-open the flooded A22 at Whyteleafe
The Kenley waterworks, which supplies around 47,000 households, including up to 7,000 in Selsdon, Sanderstead and parts of Tandridge, would need to close if it were flooded.
Around 80 soldiers and 20 county council highways officers today started building temporary reservoirs on farmland off Woldingham Road to slow and divert the Caterham Bourne so levels do not flood either the waterworks further downstream or around 450 homes.
The relief works will also help to speed up the re-opening of the A22 at Wapses Lodge roundabout in Whyteleafe, where firefighters have spent several weeks pumping away floodwater.
The emergency reservoirs, which have a total capacity of almost five Olympic-sized swimming pools, are expected to be in place until at least May to protect the waterworks and local homes. Three of the reservoirs will take water from the Caterham Bourne, while a fourth will act as a back-up if heavy rainfall causes the others to overflow.
On Friday, Surrey County Council closed Woldingham Road between the A22 at Whyteleafe and Bug Hill in Woldingham in its role as highways authority so construction could start.
Neighbouring residents and landowners have already been briefed about the reservoir scheme, which will not flood any homes or businesses and will last until a long-term Government-approved solution is found.
Susie Kemp, Surrey County Council’s Assistant Chief Executive and chair of the multi-agency flooding recovery group, said: “This is a huge logistical operation with help from military personnel, but we had to take swift action to keep householders in Surrey and Croydon safe by diverting floodwater and cutting the risk of more flooding.”