Environment Agency
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Environment Agency opens access to flood warning data

The Environment Agency recently unveiled plans for tailored flood warning services to be developed to better prepare utility providers, emergency services, insurers, retail and transport companies for flooding.

From Friday last week, organisations were able obtain licences to use live Environment Agency flood warning data to develop specialised flood warning products and services. The Environment Agency hopes that these will help operators take more effective action to protect crucial assets from potential flooding and maintain essential services.


During the 2007 floods, there was £660m in damage to critical infrastructure and services. Over half of water treatment works and pumping stations and 14 per cent of electricity infrastructure in England is situated in flood risk areas, along with some 4,000 km of roads and 2,500 km of railway.

The Environment Agency recently announced that developers are already using its live flood warning data to develop a huge range of products, including smart phone applications for the public.

"Considerable damage to crucial services"

David Rooke, the Environment Agency’s Acting Director of Flood and Costal Risk Management, said: “The floods of 2007 resulted in considerable damage to crucial services, leaving 350,000 people without water and 42,000 without power.

“We are encouraging operators of critical infrastructure, insurers and software developers to use our new flood warning data feeds, to help better prepare for future floods.”

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

For further information or to register interest in accessing the data, contact Environment Agency Commercial Services or call 08708 506 506.

National exercise

In March 2011, Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government, Cabinet Office and Environment Agency will conduct a national emergency flooding exercise – Exercise Watermark – to test the country’s arrangements to respond to severe, wide-area flooding from the sea, rivers, surface water and reservoirs. Local businesses and communities are being encouraged to take part by signing up.

Further information

There are different ways Environment Agency flood warning data can be accessed:

1. Direct access to our data – you can receive our flood warning data directly and use it to develop your own tailored warning service based on your needs and existing systems
2. Work with one of our Value Added Resellers (VARs) – VARs are companies that use our data and develop products for other people or organisations.
3. For designated category 1 and 2 responders under the Civil Contingencies Act (2004), we are currently developing a ‘standard service’ that will be available in Spring 2011.

Costs of the 2007 floods:

A report by the Environment Agency last year found that 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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