Salford’s new £10 million flood basin is now ready to reduce flood risk to 1,400 homes and 500 businesses in Lower Kersal and Lower Broughton.
The giant basin – which can hold the equivalent of 260 Olympic swimming pools – can be operated over winter, although work still continues on-site as the basin, when not storing flood water, will soon be open to the public as a recreation area with a nature reserve, wetlands and space for seven sports pitches.
The second giant flood basin, on the site of the old Manchester Racecourse at Castle Irwell, has been created by the Environment Agency and Salford City Council and has taken nearly four years to design and construct. The flood storage area will work by filling when river levels rise in flood conditions. Water will then be held in the flood storage area and will be released by two outlet pipes once river levels start to fall. This helps to reduce peak flood levels and risk to property. It will work in conjunction with the initial flood basin at Littleton Road.
Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “I am thrilled £8 million of government funding has been used to better protect almost 2,000 properties in Salford from flooding.
“This new basin will help give people living and working in Salford peace of mind from flooding this winter and we are protecting a further 3,900 homes across Greater Manchester by investing £39.5 million over the six years to 2021.”
Councillor Derek Antrobus, lead member for planning and sustainable development, said: “This is one of the most complex engineering projects the city has ever seen.
“The basin is unique in having a dual purpose. Its main function is to work alongside the original flood basin at Littleton Road, to capture, store and slowly release flood waters back into the River Irwell. That part is now fully functional and it will do that.
“Most of the time it will not be needed to store water, so then it will provide a new leisure facility for local people. Creating that has been a major project in itself and it will open in the New Year.
“Community groups were involved in the design of that and the plans include wetland habitat for a range of birds, including the Little Egret and Little Ringed Plover that have already been spotted in the area.
“The embankments have been planted with wild flower meadow flowers, and a new network of paths has been created around the site for pedestrians and cyclists and there is room to reinstate seven sports pitches with improved surfaces and drainage."
Christian Wilcox, Area Flood and Costal Risk Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency is making record levels of investment, spending £2.5 billion on new flood defence schemes across the country. We are proud to be partners with Salford City Council on this £10 million scheme and are delighted to announce that the second Salford flood basin is now operational and ready to protect properties and businesses.
“While we do everything we can to reduce flood risk, and to respond rapidly when flooding occurs, it is not possible to prevent all flooding. The new scheme increases protection and reduces the risk significantly but people still need to plan in case of extreme weather conditions. The Environment Agency and Salford Council are urging people to check their flood risk and keep up to date with the latest situation on www.gov.uk, call Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or follow @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter for the latest flood updates.”