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AGM & Other News

AGM matters

In light of the Coronavirus situation it has been decided to postpone the AGM until September at the earliest. The work on preparing and auditing the accounts will be done meanwhile; Bob Hawkins has kindly agreed to do the accounts again and we will submit all documentation via email.

New Committee Member

Debs Lemon has been added as a member of the DIG committee.

Jonathan the Engineer

Jonathan Roberts, our friendly and supportive TFB engineer has been seen in the Valley over the last week. I approached him to find out the latest.

He was just doing a few checks on the state of the drains (including sticking his head down the inspection pit in the grass outside the village hall). I had wondered if we had a problem there but apparently not, just some silt, and he said that it would all be blown through when they came to do the promised work on boosting the drainage system that has been planned for some time now.

He expects this work to be done July/August now, so we’ll see.

The Stream

Well, no sooner had we got all excited about seeing the stream running through our gardens than it’s all started drying up!

Fortunately, it continues to run through the fields below the pumping station and, of course, through the park. North of the pumping station it will soon become just a muddy mess, but it has been a joy to experience it for a month or two. If anyone has a photo of it, send it in and we will add it to the website.

Latest Flooding Alert from EA

Flood alert

Areas affected: Groundwater flooding in the High Wycombe area

ACTIVE

Started at: 09:22 BST on Wed 29 April

Flooding is possible – be prepared

Groundwater levels are high at our Piddington observation borehole near High Wycombe. Groundwater has reached a level where communities – particularly those near Radnage and in the Hughenden Valley – could be affected within weeks by flooding from groundwater. However, due to the recent drier conditions, groundwater levels have continued to drop over the last week. Levels at the Piddington observation borehole are below the level where we would expect to see flooding impacts but there may be locations where groundwater is flooding at the surface. Low-lying land and roads would be at risk of flooding first. Due to the nature of groundwater behaviour, this situation could continue for several weeks or longer dependent on rainfall conditions. The weather forecast is for an unsettled week (29 April to 5 May 2020) with potentially heavy showers at times. We continue to monitor groundwater levels and will update this message next week by 6 May 2020, or as the situation changes.

Issued at: 09:22 BST on Wed 29 April

Issued by: The Environment Agency

Continuing Alerts from EA

Areas affected: Groundwater flooding in the High Wycombe area

ACTIVE

Started at: 08:56 BST on Wed 22 April

Flooding is possible – be prepared

Groundwater levels have slightly declined but remain high at our observation site, Piddington borehole, in the Wycombe area including Radnage and the lower Hughenden Valley. Groundwater levels in this area are at a level where communities may be affected in the next few weeks by flooding from groundwater. Low-lying land and roads are at risk of flooding first. Due to the nature of groundwater behaviour, this situation could continue for several weeks or longer, and the speed at which flooding will occur is dependent on rainfall conditions. The weather forecast is for a mainly dry week (21 April to 28 April 2020). We continue to monitor groundwater levels and will update this message next week by 29 April 2020, or as the situation changes.

Issued at: 08:56 BST on Wed 22 April

Issued by: The Environment Agency

Environment Agency Flood Alert

Last week the Environment Agency issued a flood alert for the High Wycombe area.

Flood alert

Areas affected: Groundwater flooding in the High Wycombe area

ACTIVE

Started at: 10:03 BST on Wed 15 April

Flooding is possible – be prepared

Groundwater levels are high at our Piddington observation borehole near High Wycombe. Groundwater has reached a level where communities – particularly those near Radnage and in the Hughenden Valley – could be affected within weeks by flooding from groundwater. However, due to the ongoing drier conditions, groundwater levels have now started to drop.

Levels at the Piddington observation borehole are below the level where we would expect to see flooding impacts but there may be locations where groundwater is flooding at the surface. Low-lying land and roads would be at risk of flooding first. Due to the nature of groundwater behaviour, this situation could continue for several weeks or longer dependent on rainfall conditions. The weather forecast is for a mainly dry week (15 April to 21 April 2020) with potential for showers on Friday and Saturday. We continue to monitor groundwater levels and will update this message next week by 22 April 2020, or as the situation changes.

Issued at: 10:03 BST on Wed 15 April Issued by: The Environment Agency

Article submitted for Hughenden News Spring edition

The Hughenden Stream

In amongst the current gloom of Coronavirus and the winter’s wet weather, it is a pleasure to be able to report good news in that the Hughenden Stream is flowing in the Valley. Perhaps this is unsurprising as the rain seems to have been a daily event since last October. However, it is always a joy to see the stream flowing and this will be welcome by Valley residents and visitors to the park. On a cautionary note, the stream is flowing rapidly now and in the lower area of the park care is needed.

The stream was flowing down in the park late last year and since then its rising has gradually worked its way back up the Valley, as it tends to do. There is a circular depression in the field below the pumping station and this started filling with water in January. By February water was steadily flowing from this spring into the stream and down through Church Farm. In early March, water had started rising in the winterbourne ditches in back gardens up from the Surgery. Who knows how far up the Valley the water will flow from this year? 

The Valley

Thankfully, although we have suffered an extremely wet winter and the stream is running, the Valley has not suffered too badly compared to recent years. We have been very fortunate locally compared with others less fortunate than ourselves, particularly folk in the Midlands, North and the West living near substantial rivers and have suffered flooding of their homes and communities.  Spare a thought for them.

The rain for us has been spread over a long period, appears to have been relatively light, and we seem to have experienced few of the concentrated heavy downpours of the last couple of years. Nor, indeed, have we suffered the groundwater and sewage flooding experienced in 2000 and 2014, probably because the water table was at a very low level approaching the Autumn.

DIG Activity

Fortunately, despite the wet winter, our activity has been fairly low. The biggest concern has been with the local drainage ditches which have become clogged on several occasions requiring council intervention. 

Just recently, sewage was spotted spewing from an inspection cover in the field outside the pumping station and running down into the stream. Thankfully, Thames Water responded quickly to resolve this problem, but residents should be aware of this when walking in this area.

This year we await further work by Transport for Bucks in improving the road drainage near the Village Hall; this should be due from April onwards.

March DIG Update

Aside from one or two heavy downpours in the Autumn/Winter period, the Valley has escaped very lightly in contrast with other areas of the country. As a result our workload has been relatively light, hurrah!


One continuing theme has been notifying TFB about the state of the ditches, as they frequently clog up and require cleaning. The ditch along Valley Road near the pumping station ha been under pressure this winter and at one point was so full it threatened to spill over onto the road.  TFB carried out work to cleared the ditch but the tunnel under the pumping station seems to be preventing the ditch to empty properly, so a request has been made to get this looked at. 


Just this last week, sewage was spotted spewing from an inspection cover in the field outside the pumping station and running down into the stream. Thankfully, Thames Water responded quickly to resolve this problem. The fact that the spillage was quickly stopped suggests this was due to a blockage rather than a symptom of an overloaded system.


 The DIG has also approached Thames Water on the matter as residents are also keen to know how long they should leave it before allowing children and dogs to play in the stream affected.

A new HVDIG website is currently being worked on and should be available in the coming weeks. Content will be broadly similar to the existing site, but it will have a fresh look and will allow greater potential for expansion and use of images etc. 

Meeting with BCC Engineer

Today a small group of Valley Road householders met with Jonathan Roberts, the BCC engineer who has been the main contact for the various Valley Road flooding events. Debs Lemon requested this meeting following the 1st October downpour when the road (and the ditch along Valley Road) was overwhelmed over such a short period.

Regarding work previously discussed with Jonathan, he confirmed that:

1. Road drains and possibly ditches are planned to be cleaned in November

2. Further work to bring into play the large soakaway, believed to be at the corner of Coombe Gdns, is planned for next year, date presently unknown. Jonathan believes this will have a significant impact on reducing the amount of water coming down Coombe Lane and hitting Valley Road.

3. The planned resurfacing of the Village Hall area of Valley Road has been recommended but it seems that there is little sign of this happening. This work would involve changing the camber of the road to prevent water simply sitting on the road.

 For next year’s work, Jonathan has agreed to take on an action to consider introducing house drive defences (e.g. a lip to a drive) and/or gully work along the pavement on the east side of Valley Road. This would probably need to be done from the corner of Boss Lane down to the industrial estate and would involve discussions with householders to ensure everyone’s needs are met. Jonathan can see that where some house owners have altered their drives to prevent water coming in (me included), it simply pushes the problem further along the road.   

This work seems to be really necessary as all the work undertaken so far to improve the road drainage has helped to a degree, but it seems probable that whatever BCC do, we will continue to have water pouring off the road and along the pavements if it rains hard enough.

Downpour on 1st October

On the 1st of October there was a major thunderstorm accompanied by very heavy rain in the Valley. It was reported that this may have been the heaviest rain in many years and resulted in Valley Road being awash and householders again having water pouring down their drives and into the garage. Amazingly, the very heaviest rain only lasted twenty minutes,  so we can be thankful it wasn’t for any longer.


As you can see from the pictures below, in addition to the large amount of water on the pavement on the east side of Valley Road, the ditch on the west side struggled to get the water away. 


BCC have been made aware of the problems faced that day and will be visiting to discuss with affected householders.

Summer Hughenden News DIG Article

Last year Bucks CC issued its Land Drainage Enforcement Policy. This essentially lays out how the Council will manage and control water courses in its area. Most of these watercourses (which include rivers, streams and our own Hughenden Valley winterbourne stream) run through properties owned by farms, businesses and households).


Having a watercourse on your property confers rights and responsibilities, which are termed Riparian, meaning relating to the banks of a river or stream. Those of us with the stream in our gardens in the Valley will be aware that for most years it is a depression or ditch in the garden with no water in it, and there is little requirement to pay heed to it other than perhaps cutting grass or weeding it. However, it is important that riparian rights and responsibilities are understood, particularly by affected householders, to ensure proper actions are taken to manage flood risk. 


Reproduced here is a section of the Guidance for Riparian Owners, which is part of the Land Drainage Enforcement Policy. The full document can be accessed via the Documents page on the HVDIG web site at:  www.hvdig.org.


Riparian Owners’ Rights

1. If your land boundary is adjacent to a watercourse it is assumed that you own the land up to the centre of the watercourse, unless stated otherwise in your property
deeds.

2. If a watercourse runs through or underneath (through a culvert or pipe) land that you own. It is assumed that you own this stretch of watercourse .

3. You have the right to protect your property from flooding, and your land from erosion. However, you must get any plans approved by the relevant authority prior to starting work (see the section on land drainage consent).


Riparian Owners’ Responsibilities

1.  You must let water flow through your land without any obstruction, pollution or diversion which affects the rights of others.

2. You must accept flood flows through your land, even if these are caused by insufficient capacity downstream .

3. You must keep the watercourse banks clear of anything that could cause an obstruction and increase flood risk, either on your land or downstream. This includes any litter or loose vegetation, even if they did not come from your land.

4. It is your responsibility to maintain the bed and banks of the watercourse and the trees and shrubs growing on the banks.5. You must keep structures, such as culverts, trash screens, weirs and mill gates, clear of debris.

This Week’s Rain

The heavy rain this week has yet again caused localised flooding (especially Park Parade), but Valley Road has coped well with it so far. What does tend to happen with these rains is the large amounts of silt that gets swept along and left either on the road margins or in the road drains. Once the road drains fill up, keeping the road free of water becomes increasingly difficult.


This week Debs Lemon reported a number of blocked road drains near the bottom of Coombe Lane to Bucks County Council via the ‘Fix My Street’ website. 


Unfortunately, Debs received a reply saying that no work was necessary. To emphasise the  point, Debs sent a number of photos which clearly show that there is indeed a problem – see below. Let’s hope for a better reply from the Council this time.


If you haven’t used the ‘Fix My Street’ website before, see the HVDIG Advice page.