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Slowing the Flow

Have you heard the term.?

Residents of Pickering, one of our local market towns, will be familiar with the concept. Prior to a project to restrict water flow into the river flowing past the high street, Pickering was at risk of winter flooding. The river Seven is fed by a network of becks and gutters in the North York Moors. The 'Pickering Slow the Flow' project employed a range of measures from large scale engineering, simple blocks made of heather bales and the re-introduction of beavers.

Since it began Pickering hasn't flooded.

The River Dove in Farndale sends water down past Kirkbymoorside and on to the Rivers Rye and Derwent. Water from the moors around the farm crosses gutters on our land before draining into the Dove. At various times during winter the Dove will speed through the Dale and occasionally break its banks on to the flood plain. The risk of flooding in Kirkby isn't the same as Pickering, although water from the moors combines to contribute to high levels further to the south.

Water levels in Kirkby Mills, just outside Kirkbymoorside, are monitored. The live data was available on-line, but that currently appears not to be the case.

Keeping water here for longer, or 'slowing the flow' has value in preventing flooding downstream, enhancing wildlife habitat on the farm and providing a source of water in ponds during summer.

Blocking the small gutters is a small first step. In the case above the block is a small bale of hay; it fits well and is natural i.e. grass is grown on the meadows and any seeds would not be alien to the landscape here or down river.

Water will find a way to flow past the bale, but not at the rate it had done previously. The next step is to block those gaps and then add a 'leaky dam'. This pile of logs will cover the width between two high points and hold yet more water, allowing some to flow down to the river.

The idea isn't to keep all of the water here, but to keep as much as possible to create a pond during summer, releasing the excess in winter. Already the bale is preventing some soil and organic matter loss at peak flow. See the film below where the bale has been submerged.

To complete the next step I need to source robust, straight timber to cover the width of 5.2m to a height of 0.75m. It's also important to find timber I can manhandle into position, the area is too soft for a machine.


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