Maghull – More on its challenging land drainage issues

My posting of a few days ago (see link below) regarding the consequences of heavy rain locally was picked up by our local Champion newspaper and in turn a resident contacted me with regard for the potential of flooding in the future associated with Whinney Brook/Dovers Brook.

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To explain I’ve taken a few photos of where 3 brooks/streams combine yards away from the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail on the western edge of the Town:-

Cheshire Lines Path crossing Dovers Brook & looking towards Meadway/ Old Racecourse Road

Footbridge across Dovers Brook where it is joined by Whinney Brook at the far corner of the Maghull High School site.

The confluence of Whinney Brook and Dovers Brook as seen from the blue bridge in the 2nd photo. Whinney Brook crosses Maghull east to west.

Another confluence just few yards further back up Dovers Brook – the stream on the left has come down from behind Fouracres.

The photos above were taken after the recent floodwaters had subsided on 29th February. There are of course other tributary streams joining Dovers Brook and eventually about two thirds of a mile north of the 1st photo Dovers Brook spills into the River Alt.

Looking back towards Bridges Lane and Sefton Church from the confluence of Dovers Brook and the River Alt. This photo is from 2013

Having said that the problem, faced at times of heavy rain, is the long-standing one of the Alt being too high for Dovers Brook to empty into it, which in turn backs up Dovers Brook to flood. As I’ve said previously, there’s nothing new about this problem it’s just that we see it happening more often these days. The next photo shows what happens when things get really bad:-

A flooded Bridges Lane between Dovers Brook and the River Alt – when it all got too much in December 2015

The purpose of this posting has been to try to illustrate the problems on the western side of Maghull due to its low lying land and the drainage system that, other than in flood conditions, keeps in drained. The worry of the resident who contacted me most recently is that with future rainfall expected to more regular and even heavier will the Maghull area suffer bigger flooding events especially as more agricultural land is built upon (as part of Sefton Council’s Local Plan) which presently soaks up much of the rainwater.

Of course I’m no drainage engineer or climatologist but you won’t be surprised that I share such worries……..

Maghull – Flooding – When the Environment Agency turned down volunteers

Quite a number of years ago, I suppose it must have been around the turn of the last Century, Maghull Town Council (then Lib Dem run) held a number of meetings with the Environment Agency about flooding. This was when the Lib Dems were warning about ‘climate change’ at a time when the Environment Agency line was that once in a hundred years events should be treated as such.

Of course this was well before the terrible flooding of Maghull’s Fouracres in 2012 and the events of Boxing day 2015 but it was clear back then that Maghull would be facing serious flooding issues in the future.

I raise this again now following a chat with my old chum and former Maghull councillor Cliff Mainey because it was Cliff who reminded me what had happened back then.

You see what had slipped my mind was that during those discussions it had been suggested by councillors that volunteers should be trained up who would know where to go to clear blockages in water courses in the event of very heavy rain.

Cliff, a retired Fireman, tells me that the Environment Agency rejected this idea. Now roll on to Boxing Day 2015.

Hall Lane, Maghull with a Merseyside Fire & Rescue worker trying to clear debris from Whinney Brook on Boxing Day 2015.

Hall Lane, Maghull with a Merseyside Fire & Rescue worker trying to clear debris from Whinney Brook on Boxing Day 2015.

At one specific spot the debris brought down Whinney Brook in the raging water blocked the grid/grill at the start of the culvert that takes this stream under Liverpool Road South at the Meadows shops. I photoed the consequences of this blockage and published those shots on Boxing day and reproduce them today. However, what I did not know was that the emergency services did not seemingly have this grid/grill within their emergency plan for flooding in Maghull so did not check it for a blockage until the water had back-flowed under Northway to flood the section of Hall Lane from the A59 to Old Hall Road.

Hall Lane, Maghull between the A59 and Old hall Road

Hall Lane, Maghull between the A59 and Old Hall Road.

This explains why the fireman that I saw clearing the debris from the grill/grid told me that he had seen the water level fall by 3ft after he had cleared it.

It was for this very sort of flooding scenario that Lib Dem Maghull Town Councillors had suggested that it appoint and train volunteers with local knowledge to help combat flooding problems all those years ago and as, I say, the Environment Agency poured cold water on the idea!

It strikes me that if they had been appointed and trained the grid/grill on Whinney Brook would have been kept clear and the water may well not have back-flowed up Whinney Brook.

I wonder how the Environment Agency feel about the matter now?

Addendum posted later on 24th January 2016 – How odd, I have just seen last week’s edition of the Aintree & Maghull Champion where there’s an article very much along these lines in terms of Maghull Town Council trying to get something similar up and running! I wrote this posting about 10 days ago and had no idea that MTC had been working up a new initiative some 16 or more years since Cliff Mainey had been thwarted the first time around. What an odd coincidence.

Maghull Flooding – I have just been interviewed by Radio Merseyside

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Stood in a muddy field next to Dovers Brook with it tippling down, that’s where I was interviewed by Radio Merseyside journalist Mike Perkins as storm Frank was hitting Maghull today.

Dovers Brook in full flood looking north from Sefton Lane on Boxing Day 2015.

Dovers Brook in full flood looking north from Sefton Lane on Boxing Day 2015.

Thankfully at noon today the River Alt was not high and neither was Dovers Brook unlike Boxing Day when Maghull was hit by flooding.

Not sure what parts of the interview Radio Merseyside will use but I made comment on the low lying nature of Sefton and how much of it is prone to flooding at times of heavy prolonged rain.

Hall Lane, Maghull with a Merseyside Fire & Rescue worker trying to clear debris from Whinney Brook on Boxing Day.

Hall Lane, Maghull with a Merseyside Fire & Rescue worker trying to clear debris from Whinney Brook on Boxing Day.

I also explained how Whinney Brook flows into Dovers Brook which in turn flows into the River Alt and how when the Alt is too high the process starts to work in reverse causing flooding for parts of western Maghull.

Having lived in Sefton Lane as a lad and teenager I recalled how flooding took place near Dovers Brook back then but that it has got far worse in recent years with 2012 being the worst flooding event.

Dovers Brook where Sefton Lane becomes Bridges Lane - The houses were about to be inundated on 26th December 2015.

Dovers Brook where Sefton Lane becomes Bridges Lane – The houses were about to be inundated on 26th December 2015.

We also discussed the work the Environment Agency is doing on the Alt to create food zones in fields north east of Lunt and how this almost replicates what used to happen a 100 years ago when the Meadows around the Alt would flood each winter. In very cold weather it would provide a place for folk to ice skate.

Maghull & Lydiate – Flooding hits on Boxing Day

Dovers Brook where Sefton Lane becomes Bridges Lane - The houses were about to be inundated.

Dovers Brook where Sefton Lane becomes Bridges Lane – The houses were about to be inundated.

Maghull & Lydiate have today been suffering from flooding following the torrential rain that has been hitting northern England recently.

The following photos document the scene across the joint communities between 11 am and noon today:-

Hall Lane, Maghull

Hall Lane, Maghull

Hall Lane, Maghull with a Merseyside Fire & Rescue worker clearing debris from Whinney Brook.

Hall Lane, Maghull with a Merseyside Fire & Rescue worker trying to clear debris from Whinney Brook. He told me the level had dropped by 3ft as he cleared it.

Lambshear Lane, Lydiate

Lambshear Lane, Lydiate

Moss Lane, Lydiate

Moss Lane, Lydiate

A swollen River Alt as it just about manages to duck under Bridges Lane near Sefton Village.

A swollen River Alt as it just about manages to duck under Bridges Lane near Sefton Village.

Sefton Lane, Maghull

Sefton Lane, Maghull

A raging Whinney Brook at Ormonde Drive, Maghull

A raging Whinney Brook at Ormonde Drive, Maghull

The worrying issue here is the capacity of the River Alt to take all the flood water from Whinney Brook, Dovers Brook etc. In 2012 it could not take all the water and houses were inundated in Fouracres, Maghull. At the time I took the photos Fouracres was not being flooded. The next few hours will probably be crucial.

With thoughts for all those being flooded or in danger of it.

Flooding issues western side of Maghull

I got a call last week from the Champion newspaper asking me what I thought about about news that the Environment Agency (I assume) would be investing money to try to help with this problem.

This is the River Alt as it flows under the A59 (Northway) on Maghull's southern boundary. In the background is the old Cheshire Lines Extension Railway bridge over the Alt which is now used as a footpath.

This is the River Alt as it flows under the A59 (Northway) on Maghull’s southern boundary. In the background is the old Cheshire Lines Extension Railway bridge over the Alt which is now used as a footpath.

It seems that investment in Hey Cop Pumping Station, Lower Carr Lane, Great Altcar is to take place and a small sum is also to be invested in some additional work to assist around the Fouracres area of Maghull where very bad flooding hit the community in 2012.

Below is a shot of Whinney Brook where it flows under Ormonde Drive in Maghull:-

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Whinney brook flows east to west across Maghull and joins Dovers Brook close to Fouracres. This shot was taken on 9th February 2014 after days to rain had hit Maghull and district.

In turn Dovers Brook (flowing northwards) joins the river Alt north of Bridges Lane. See photo below:-

A very high Dovers Brook in 2012 next to cottages at Bridges Lane/Sefton Lane Maghull. The brook is the boundary between Maghull and Sefton Civil Parishes.

A very high Dovers Brook in 2012 next to cottages at Bridges Lane/Sefton Lane Maghull. The brook is the boundary between Maghull and Sefton Civil Parishes.

The confluence of Dovers Brook with the River Alt (and indeed another stream called St Helen’s Gutter) is about half a mile north of this point:-

This shot, with Sefton Church in the background, is looking south down the River Alt (it flows north) towards Bridges Lane. Dovers Brook joins at this point on the left of the photo. St Helen's Gutter joins on the right but you can hardly see it due to the tall bunds.

This shot, with Sefton Church in the background, is looking south down the River Alt (it flows north) towards Bridges Lane. Dovers Brook joins at this point on the left of the photo. St Helen’s Gutter joins on the right but you can’t see it due to tall bunds.

Any investment is of course welcome in our local drainage system. However, I still worry that when we encounter the amount of rainfall that we had in 2012 or what the Somerset Levels and western/southern areas of England and Wales are presently suffering from then our flood defences would not be adequate.