Government working to reduce risk of major flooding

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JERSEY Water is working ‘closely’ with government officers on ways to avoid major flooding after Grands Vaux homes suffered severe damage last week, the Infrastructure Minister has said.

Deputy Tom Binet spoke after worried residents sent an open letter to Jersey Water, Andium Homes and Assistant Environment Minister Hilary Jeune asking for clarification on the immediate and long-term actions that will be taken to prevent future flooding in the area.

Nearly 60 households were evacuated and a major incident was declared after more than half a month’s worth of rain fell in a single day, causing water levels to rise to waist-height in several areas of the Andium estates.

Grands Vaux flooding aftermath Picture: JON GUEGAN. (35092600)

At the time of the incident, Deputy Binet said Grands Vaux would be at the ‘front and centre’ of efforts to improve the Island’s flooding resilience.

He commended the emergency service response, adding that he was ‘mindful’ that other areas of the Island were also affected.

Addressing the open letter, he said: ‘I went down to Grands Vaux and spoke with some of the residents – I very much understand where they are coming from. If my house had been flooded I would want to know what was being done too.’

He added that the situation required short-, medium- and long-term solutions but, noting the sheer scale of the rainfall, stressed that any immediate prevention measures ‘could be limited in a scenario like that’.

‘Given the valley nature of Grands Vaux, it’s going to be problematic in any event.

‘We are potentially looking at what could be done upstream in terms of diverting water and holding it back, [as well as] drainage and reservoir management.

Deputy Tom Binet Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (35092606)

‘This is the sort of analytical work that is happening now,’ he continued.

Mark Manton, Jersey Water’s head of production operations, said that last week’s flooding was the result of a ‘double whammy’ of significant rainfall and severe gale-force winds that knocked down trees across the Island 24 hours earlier.

He explained that the combination of debris and the intense water volumes meant drains across the Island were overwhelmed.

Deputy Binet said the Council of Ministers had ‘accepted’ there was a need to improve the drainage network.

‘The Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Department and Jersey Water have to work closely together – and that is happening.

‘I think we also have to commit to having a meeting with residents to give them our initial findings, so that they know work is going on,’ he continued, adding that this could take place in approximately six weeks – potentially using the nearby parish hall as a meeting location.

An online petition by Grands Vaux residents calling for the government to produce and publish a ‘flood response action plan’ has been launched.

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