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Flood Forecasting Centre tests groundwater data



Organisation works with consultancy on trials aimed at extending its forecasting capabilities

The Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC) is testing a new data capability with the aim of of establishing a Groundwater Data Service to add to its existing provisions for river, surface water and coastal flooding.

It has begun work with environmental report and data consultancy service GeoSmart Information, providing hydrometry data – covering the different elements of the hydrological cycle – for the modelling of rising groundwater levels to provide forecasts of how it could affect different geographical areas.

The FFC, which is a partnership between the Environment Agency and the Met Office, provides a hydrometeorology service that delivers forecasts of flooding in England and Wales. It is working with GeoSmart to use real time borehole, probability and trend data to predict the severity of floods.

The trials are currently in their first stage and, if successful, will be ramped up towards making the service fully operational, although no firm date has been set for a full launch.

Stuart Pearce, managing director of GeoSmart, said: “This pilot study is a true first of its kind. By working closely with the FFC we are pooling our scientific expertise to explore ways of providing a national overview of groundwater flooding.

“We hope by harnessing open data in this way, we can help to enable communities, critical infrastructure and utilities to plan resilience measures and support authorities in their response through the flooding cycle.”

Groundwater flooding creates a risk that has often been difficult to assess as, subject to soil conditions, it can occur up to 30 days after surface flooding. Water can move through a landscape and rise through floorboards, air bricks and sewer systems.

Water companies are now scrutinised in their management of foul sewerage, which can have serious environmental health effects when sewers become inundated.

The FFC's 2014-15 annual review set out a target to make its customers better prepared for flooding by the end of 2015-16. This includes the development of a new Flood Guidance Statement, which provides information to Category 1 and 2 responders for civil emergencies, with additional elements for more tailored information.

Image from Manhattan Resarch Inc, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons


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