The Environment Agency regularly undertake maintenance on behalf of the riparian owners using its permissive powers through the town of Fairford.
This normally consists of weed removal and blockage clearance throughout the channel from the road bridge downstream to below the Horcott Farm area.
Last year we did not undertake this maintenance due to the prolonged dry weather period we were experiencing as this maintenance would have potentially lowered the water too much for its inhabitants to survive and shelter. We are still in a period of prolonged dry weather so for the 2019 maintenance activity we have re-evaluated the maintenance we had planned in the area. We have decided that we would not undertake routine weed cutting this year through fear of emptying the channel and instead we will monitor the area more regularly for signs of high water. We will carry out emergency weed removal, if required, when water reaches an agreed level. On that threshold being met, we will remove all of the weed using the normal method of weed scythes and machine removal from the channel down at Horcott Farm.
This emergency work is likely to be required this year due to the loose weed that has come down river and been allowed to collect on the un-cut weed below the road bridge. This loose weed is difficult to remove as it gets tangled in un-cut weed and to remove it would require the riparian owners or ourselves to cut the weed it is resting against. Collection and removal of the weed cut upstream should be better next year – this will also stop any leaching back into the channel, and artificially raising the water levels.
We hope that this is a clear message that Fairford can rest assured that we are keeping a close eye on the weed growth and water levels through this dry period in order to keep the risk of flooding, even short intense rainy periods, at a low impact occurrence for the town.
It’s worth noting that the dry period of weather is area spread and we will need a good spell of light rain for a reasonable amount of time in order to reduce the deficit in rainfall amounts for the whole of the Thames Area.
This course of action may continue into the following year’s period of weed growth too.
Riparian owners are ultimately responsible for the maintenance of all the channels they own and our actions do not prohibit the owners from undertaking maintenance to their channel should they feel that the flood risk is too high for them to be comfortable with and providing that owners apply for consent if they need to and the take all precautions to minimise the effect on the environment then any maintenance they undertake is completely within their responsibility as riparian owners.