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Environment Agency - Improved Flood Warning Service for Infrastructure Operators

A new flood warning service for infrastructure owners and operators was unveiled today by the Environment Agency.

The Flood Warnings for Infrastructure service will provide infrastructure operators, such as utility companies and transport, with individually tailored warnings allowing  organisations to take actions earlier to protect crucial assets.   

55 per cent of water treatment works and pumping stations and 14 per cent of electricity infrastructure in England are situated in flood risk areas, along with some 4,000 km of roads and 2,500 km of railway.

Flood Warning for Infrastructure (FWFI) is a new way of delivering flood warnings to infrastructure owners and operators, and is a major advance on the existing service provided to homes and businesses in England and Wales. 

The service is suitable for any type of equipment, development or network, including sewage treatment works, telephone exchanges, offices or depots, motorways and railways.  Any organisation which owns or operates fixed assets or networks is eligible to adopt the service. 

Robert Runcie, Director of Flood and Costal Risk Management at the Environment Agency, said;

 “We provide information so that infrastructure operators know what is at risk so they can build resilience into their systems. The new flood warning service for operators is a major step forward to allow protection of essential assets in the infrastructure system.

“Operators must continue to invest in business continuity measures for their systems so that essential services can continue even during a flood.

 “The floods in Cumbria last year resulted in considerable damage to crucial infrastructure, leaving 10 000 homes without power and 2000 phone lines threatened. This is highlights the risk we face of increasing flood risk due to climate change.

“The Environment Agency’s new service will help operators to take action earlier ahead of floods and we urge all infrastructure owners and operators in flood risk areas to take up the service.”

Infrastructure owners and operators interested in taking up the service should contact Frazer Rhodes on 08708 506 506. 

Following the 2007 floods, the Pitt Review recommended the Environment Agency should develop a flood warning system more tailored to the needs of infrastructure operators. 

In partnership with Western Power Distribution, the Environment Agency has developed the web-based solution to meet the flood warning needs of infrastructure operators.

Ian Smith of Western Power Distribution, said:  “Since the introduction of the additional warning service at Western Power Distribution in July 2009 we have been able to target our response to flood warnings more effectively, allowing us to promptly identify our assets at risk in order to take action where required and protect the electricity supply to our network and customers.”

Media enquiries:  National Press Office on 020 7863 8610 or outside normal office hours, please contact the National Duty Press Officer on 07798 882 092.

NOTES TO EDITORS

A recent report by the Environment Agency found the 2007 floods cost the UK £3.2 billion, including £660 million in damage to critical national infrastructure and essential services.  Water supplies and treatment plants were the most affected, followed by roads and electricity supplies. 

Utility companies and their customers incurred most (£330 million) of these costs, including £186 million by water companies and £139 million by electricity and gas suppliers, mainly due to disrupted supplies.  A further £230 million worth of damage was caused to communications and transport, including roads. 

The flooding of the Mythe water treatment works in Tewkesbury created one of the UK’s worst post-World War II emergencies, leading to the loss of piped water supply to 350,000 customers in 138,194 properties in the Gloucester area for two weeks in July.

Additional impacts of the 2007 floods included:

  • 350,000 people were without water for up to 16 days
  • 150,000 properties lost electricity of an average of 15 hours
  • Seven motorways were shut, including the M5 which left 10,000 vehicles stranded overnight

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