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Flood relief channel

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Flood relief channel

In 1920, the Lee Conservancy Catchment Board (in addition to its existing functions of controlling navigation and fishing and preventing pollution) was empowered to spend money on a scheme to prevent floods in the LeaValley, and to levy a precept on the local authorities affected by the scheme.

The Board prepared a scheme that included the stopping up and diversion of several old sewers, and the cutting of a broad additional channel leaving the River Lea (New Cut) at Tottenham (near the Banbury Reservoir) and running through Walthamstow and Leyton (eastward of the reservoirs) to rejoin the river just below the filter beds of the Metropolitan Water Board at Lea Bridge.

Parliamentary sanction was obtained in 1938, but owing to the War, the work was deferred. Serious flooding in 1947 that, among other things, put the filter station out of action for several days, showed the importance of the project.

In 1950, work eventually began on the construction of the newRiver Lea Flood Relief Channel (RLFRC)and was completed in either 1960 or 1976 (accounts differ).

The channelhas significantly improved flood defence in theValley. It was constructed to give protection during events, with return periods of up to1 in 70 years. Since 1976, it has been successful in containing flooding along theLower Lea, although it was almost full in the storms of October 1987, October 1993and October 2000.

The River Lea flows through the RLFRC for 25 km downstreamof Feildes Weir, before becoming part of the River Lea again south of Friends Bridge, and travelling the remaining9 km to the Thames.

For most of its length, the RLFRC flows parallel to the LeaNavigation Channel and the old River Lea system. There are several links betweenthe Navigation Channel and the flood relief channel control structures that keep thewater level in the relief channel constant, except in times of flood when the sluicesopen to allow discharge of flood waters.


References

'Metropolitan Essex since 1919: Local administration', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 5 (1966), pp. 74-81

environmental statement annexeflood risk assessmentolympic, paralympic & legacy transformation planning applicationsfebruary 2007

leabridge.org.uk December 2012
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