The River Ribble broke its banks twice over the holidays reaching its highest ever level at Walton Le Dale.
The Environment Agency records that 40 significant events have been recorded since 1600. The most significant was in 1866 when flooding occurred on the Ribble, Calder and the Darwen, when newspapers recorded widespread flooding of businesses and properties. More recently in 1995, 38 properties were flooded in Preston, Walton le Dale and Ribchester and a similar event in 2000 also flooded Padiham, Barrowford and Blackburn affecting 33 properties. In 2002 the Calder and Darwen flooded affecting 18 residential and 40 commercial properties around Blackburn and Burnley.
The Environment Agency report in 2009 said 2,300 properties are at high risk of flooding in Preston and Walton Le Dale. This will grow to over 5000 due to climate change.
The sources of flood risk vary, from the risk of direct flooding from the River Ribble in areas of Preston and Walton-le-Dale, to the flood risk associated with culverts in Preston such as Moor Brook, Swill Brook, and Eaves Brook. In addition, the influence of the tidal Ribble estuary, into which many of the rivers in this area drain, can lead to rivers ‘backing up’ during high tide conditions, which can increase flood risk as flows start to build up at tidal outlets.
Large amounts have been spent on Watery Lane near the docks improving drainage. These projects are big, expensive and disruptive. The Ribble reached its previous record in 2012 and you might wonder if dredging the Ribble will be an option long after the last Port of Preston dredgers and sand pumps were disposed of.