Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Nene Floods 3

Many readers of this blog will be most interested in canals and narrow boats, but the rivers also need some explaining.
Coming as we do from East Anglia, Patience has spent her recent years on the Ouse and tributaries and now the Nene (via the Middle Level). These river systems are not just for leisure boating but are primarily for water control. That's why they are managed by the Environment Agency rather than British Waterways / Canal River Trust.
Car Park, Godmanchester
This pic was taken in my office gardens in 2009 but the scene is the same today - except that there are gangs of men wandering around looking lost. The reason? They're building flood defences in the gardens bordering the river, but the floods have over-run their site, so flood barrier building has come to a halt. Halted by floods ....

You can visualise the north-south Grand Union Canal west of Northampton on the left, the Ouse on the right and the Nene and Middle Levels in the centre connecting the two sides.

The Northampton Arm leaves the Grand Union Canal at Gayton Junction and joins the River Nene in the centre of Northampton.

The River Nene then takes a twisting and attractive rural route through Oundle where we are moored and Lilford, our nearest EA measuring station, to Peterborough's Stanground Lock where it divides, with the northern channel becoming tidal as it crosses the flat Fenlands on its way to the sea. For preference, most boaters avoid the difficult tidal stretch and enter the quiet and often narrow Middle Levels.

The Middle Levels
are primarily a network of rivers, man-made drainage ditches and sluices intended to drain the low-lying area between Peterborough and Ely. They also offer a navigable route between the River Nene and the Ouse.

Nearly all the locks on the Nene have conventional mitre gates at the upstream end and a single vertically lifting guillotine gate at the downstream end. This means the locks can be used as additional weirs in time of flood, when the mitre gates are chained open and the guillotines lifted to allow the water to flow straight through. No navigation is allowed at these times.

So because in high water times the Nene is used to channel excess water out to sea, boaters must stay away - or else! The flooding that we see in some places such as Port Holme and the Ouse Washes is the planned flooding of low lying areas designed for this. The flooding of low lying houses built on the flood plains is an inevitable consequence of allowing inappropriate building. With an increase in serious weather events that can only get worse.
So the moral is, move your home up hill and leave your boat in a safe and caring marina, like ours, or you could find your house under water and your boat stranded in a field!
Either way, don't blame the EA if they prioritise drainage solutions above recreational boating....
Mooring at Thrapston Bridge on the Nene, November 25th 2012

Patience moored at Thrapston Bridge on the Nene, September 20th 2012
So thanks again to Oundle Marina for looking after Patience!

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