Groundwater Warning

7th January 2016

Have you been affected by groundwater flooding?

The Environment Agency have developed a number of new flood warning areas for communities at risk from groundwater flooding. These complement their existing flood alert areas. They are working with communities to promote these warning areas and recruit people to sign up for their Flood Warnings Direct Service.

How can I sign up to receive these flood warnings?

To find out if you are at risk and to register to receive these Flood Alerts and Flood Warnings for groundwater, call Floodline on 0345 988 118 (24 hour service) or visit the Environment Agency Website. For more information about the flood warning areas contact the Wessex Flood Resilience team at or use the online Flood Warning Information Service.

How the Environment Agency have produced the flood warning areas

For several years the Environment Agency have been able to issue groundwater flood alerts across the area. The three alert areas are the West of Dorset, Cranborne Chase and Salisbury Plain. The flood alert is an early warning about the potential for flooding to occur. Following the groundwater flooding in 2013 / 2014, we have analysed our records and have produced 22 community based flood warning areas. These cover smaller areas than the flood alerts. A flood warning is used to warn people that flooding of properties is expected.

How can I make preparations to cope with groundwater flooding?

  • Think and prepare now for what you'll do if flooding occurs where you live, don't wait until flooding happens. The primary responsibility for protecting a property from flooding lies with the householder.
  • Consider installing flood protection products such as a pump or improving surface water drainage around your property.
  • If you have a pump ensure it is serviced and working effectively.
  • Have a personal flood plan which list key information, contacts and actions to help you cope with flooding.
  • Move valuables from basements and cellars.
  • Keep drains and gullies around your property free of debris.
  • Visit the Environment Agency Website for local water levels and flooding information
  • If you own part of the river bank you should keep the banks and bed of the river clear of debris.

The Winterborne River was designated a main river in April 2006 and as such is protected in law by the Land Drainage Act 1991 and subsequent related Acts and Byelaws. The water flow is generated through natural springs and from water pumped to the surface in Winterborne Houghton, consequently the flow is reduced in summer months due to low water table levels. Flooding of a few properties in 2014 was the product of severe and prolonged weather conditions affecting the local area and Winterborne River catchment. This was described by the Environment Agency as a 1 in 200 year event. Never-the-less we need to be prepared for similar events should they occur.

The primary responsibility for a Dorset Flood Management Strategy lies with Dorset County Council acting as the Lead Local Flood Authority. However, this responsibility is shared with District and Borough Councils, Parish Councils, the Environment Agency, Wessex Water, Highways, riparian owners, property owners and local residents.

Winterborne Stickland Parish Council has appointed a group of volunteers, the Stickland River Management Group (SRMG), whose function is to manage the river throughout the year in accordance with Environment Agency guidance, by maintaining a continuous and unimpeded flow of water throughout the village. The group is supported by additional volunteers who help carry out this work.

Wherever possible the SRMG will also do their best to help residents affected by flood events and to action emergency measures when the Winterborne Stickland area is subject to flood warnings and flooding. In emergency situations there are also many members of the village community who will willingly offer help if requested in support of residents who might be directly affected by flooding.

    Download The 2017 Flood & River Management Plan