A MAJOR study is under way to ensure the Aldingbourne Rife keeps flowing safely.
A £50,000 grant from the government to the Environment Agency to begin the work is already being spent because of the importance of the matter in ensuring the Bognor Regis area is safe from flooding.
The rife is the main waterway which passes through North Bersted, Bognor and Felpham.It absorbs water from the Barnham Rife and a host of other tributaries.
All that water has the potential to cut off Bognor as the combined flow passes under the A29, the railway line and the A259 on its way to the sea next to Butlin’s.
The rife is usually the subject of several flood warnings, and occasional flood alerts, every winter.
Andrew Gilham, the agency’s flood and coastal risk manager, said: “We wanted to get on with the study following the floods last June.
“There are a number of properties which are at risk in the floodplains of the rifes.
“We are looking at the rifes and their catchment areas and drawing together the county council’s surface water management plans for Barnham, Lidsey and Elmer.
“We want to identify where the rifes’ hotspots are and see what the risk is from flooding from the rifes and from surface water. This is the first time there has been such an holistic approach to the matter.
“Previous studies have looked at individual aspects and have been done by various bodies. This will be a joined-up aproach, which was recommended in the report in last year’s flooding.
The grant was announced by the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs last week.
It is expected to be the first stage of a multi-million funding requirement for any work recommended for the rife. This is unlikely to take place for another three years at least because of the complexity of the study.
Funding will also be needed from other sources to enable the improvements to be made.
“It’s too early to say what the improvements will be,” said Mr Gilham. “At the moment, the outfall next to Butlin’s works well. But will that so in a few years’ with the rising sea level and more intense rain?
“We might need to improve the outfall to enable the water to drain away better.
“Or it could be a case of better flood defences along the rife or enabling the water to be stored elsewhere in the catchment area where it does not affect people.”
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