Flooding in Caton: action!

FLOODING IN CATON

(Quernmore Road –> Copy Lane -> The Croft -> Ashcroft Close)

What you can do to help stop it

Last Wednesday, 22nd November, during the torrential rain that lasted from around 7pm to just before midnight, a huge amount of water travelled downhill along Copy Lane, down The Croft and into Ashcroft Close. Many homes were affected by flooding, , including people living in the barn conversion in Copy Lane (where the flood water left Copy Lane and flowed down The Croft) and  in The Croft. The Ship was also affected, and homes in Ashcroft Close.

The source of the majority of the water appears to be surface water run-off from the fields to the south of Escowbeck Farm – this is the first farm entrance on the right as you drive up Quernmore Road from the A683 that goes through Caton. The water gathers in the fields then exits as a ‘river’ through the gateway to the farm on Quernmore Road, then flows down Quernmore Road into Copy Lane, thence into The Croft and across the main A683 road through the village by the Ship Inn and into Ashcroft Close. People driving along Quernmore Road last Wednesday evening during the rain report a one foot deep wall of water leaving the farm gate.

From talking to the owner of the farm,  and people who live along the route, it seems this run-off and flooding has been happening for years, but has never been so large before. In fact the Council has at some time in the past recognised the problem by installing a larger drain grid in the road gutter just uphill of the barn conversion on Copy Lane to let the water drain down. So what was different last Wednesday to cause the flooding?

Heavy rainfall on Monday and Tuesday (14mm) saturated the land, and the torrential rain on Wednesday (56mm recorded at Galgate weather station) then caused the run-off to be worse than ever before. According to the owner, the fields have no land drainage or ditches to remove water and the land slopes down towards the farm entrance, so once the ground is saturated there isn’t anywhere for the surface water to go to except downhill onto Quernmore Road.

So the torrential rain onto saturated land that has no drainage seems to be a major part of the cause of the flooding, but surely we’ve had rain as bad before? According to people along the route a second cause was blocked and insufficient drains and sewers/gulleys. Water was seen pouring out of grids instead of going down them. At the farm entrance, a fountain of water was seen spurting 2 feet high  from the grid there, which indicates that there was either a blockage or insufficient capacity in the drains lower down the road.  Water could not drain away fast enough and flowed down the roads instead. The fire brigade had to clean a blockage in the storm grid in Copy Lane to let water down, and that was possibly part of the flooding problem too although that grid apparently does not flow into a separate storm system, but is simply a bigger grid onto the normal (smallish) road drains below which drain the whole of the north side of Copy Lane. There was even standing water on the main road (A683) outside the Ship Inn, the grids there were not draining fast enough.

Talking to the driver of the gulley-cleaning wagon (there is only one vehicle for the whole of Lancaster, it seems), the last time he cleaned grids/gulleys in Caton was a year ago. But each year leaves fall in autumn and soil is washed down the grids which can cause blockages and reduced flow. Robert, the funeral director who is now based on Copy Lane opposite the barn conversion saw the the gulley machine in Halton and asked the driver to come over. The driver has cleaned a few grids in Copy Lane but needs his boss’ approval to come back and clean the rest – Quernmore Road, Copy Lane, The Croft, the A683 outside the Ship Inn, and Ashcroft Close.

What you can do:

The County Council is apparently responsible for flooding from fields onto roads, and also for grid and gulley/drain cleaning and needs to hear your reports of how it affected you, the more people who report it to them the more likely they will take some action – we tend to think they will automatically know somehow and do whatever’s needed, but they don’t and won’t. There are two sections to register your report with (they will give you a separate case reference for each report): the Land Drainage section (for the run-off problem) and the Highways Section (for water flooding onto the roads). There is one number for both: Flood Risk Team/Highways – 0300 123 6780

The person responsible is: Rachel Crompton (Flood Risk Manager) – (01772) 530150. Email: rachel.crompton@lancashire.gov.uk.

You can also report at highways@lancashire.gov.uk but you (obviously) won’t get a ticket reference if you report by email nor the chance to talk to anyone and impress upon them how serious this is.  You can also report online http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/fault-search.aspx.

What action could Lancashire CC take?

The most important (and quickest) thing that can be done is for Lancashire County Council to clean all of the grids and sewers/drains/gulleys along the flood route (Escobeck farm/Quernmore Road through to Ashcroft Close) so that they are at their full capacity should further heavy rainfall occur during this winter. This can be done immediately and simply needs a gulley cleaning wagon and driver allocating for several days. Since they only have one gulley wagon for the whole of Lancaster at present, they will likely need to hire one. From what people have observed, it’s important they also clean the drains/gulleys/culverts running from grid-to-grid underground all the way to the river and not just clean out the road grids. They then need to commit to regular cleaning each autumn after leaf fall and another once or twice during the winter months to remove leaves and soil build-up along that route.

The second thing to be done would be to reduce the run-off from the fields south/south west of Escobeck Farm by installing land drainage and ditches, and diverting the run-off into Esco Beck which lies to the west of the farm and these fields. This is obviously going to take the Council longer and involve site visits to assess the slope/contours of the land. If the run-off is channelled via ditches into Esco Beck it is important the Council also enlarge the culvert where Esco Beck travels under the A683 to drain at Crook O’ Lune, this culvert is already too small and is already flooding the two properties nearby during heavy rain. The road drainage down Quernmore Road, Copy Lane, The Croft and on the A683 outside the Ship Inn could also be assessed for capacity and improved as necessary.

When ringing, you might want to ask for these two points of action to be taken and emphasise that you’re not just reporting it for their stats – tell them there is a problem of flooding they can fix, and you want them to take action to resolve the problem asap – starting with the grid/drain cleaning immediately.

If you have information that might add to the above and help persuade Lancashire Council how urgent it is for them to act in this case, please tell them on the phone number above when you make your report.

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