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Further Rain Increases Risk Of Flooding In Dorset

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11:18am 14th July 2012

Exceptional rainfall in recent weeks has already caused groundwater flooding in some parts of Dorset. Worst affected are Winterbourne Abbas, Martinstown, Ninestone, Winterbourne Steepleton and Wey Valley where nearly 75 homes and businesses have been flooded.

The A35 trunk road has been closed for six days due to floodwater, but opened again yesterday when the Olympic Torch passed through Winterbourne Abbas

A Groundwater Flood Alert remains in force for Dorset and the risk of flooding from the West Dorset Streams and Dorset Frome remains high. More thundery showers are forecast for this afternoon with light rainfall tomorrow. Drier weather is expected on Sunday with more rain due early next week.

June 2012 was the wettest on record with 160mm of rainfall recorded in West Dorset. More than 170mm of rain has already fallen in some parts of Dorset – three times the amount of rainfall expected. This has resulted in flows in ground-fed chalk streams similar to those  seen during a winter flood event.

The Environment Agency has recorded ‘exeptionally high’ levels at some of its monitoring boreholes. At one site, the groundwater level rose 12 metres in only three days. The Agency is currently assessing what will happen to groundwater levels under varying rainfall conditions and is working closely with Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council, Wessex Water and local communities to prepare for future potential flooding.

‘Six weeks of heavy rainfall has resulted in exceptionally high groundwater levels. We’ve had some massive downpours in the past week, with some areas seeing more than double the long term average. This has resulted in some property flooding from groundwater sources,’ said Dave Bunt for the Environment Agency.

‘We’re expecting further heavy downpours this weekend which unfortunately means there is a risk of further property flooding across Dorset and Somerset, and from groundwater flooding in some areas of Dorset. We’d urge people to continue to be vigilant and to check our website for flood alerts and warnings.’

People are warned not to attempt to drive or walk through flood water. There is currently a risk of flood water being contaminated in some areas. People in affected areas are advised, wherever possible, to avoid coming into direct contact with floodwater.

Over five million people in England and Wales are at risk from flooding from rivers and the sea. Those in flood risk areas should sign up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning system – the most immediate and localised source of information on flooding – by calling 0845 988 1188 or visiting www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.

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