AN INVESTIGATION will be carried out into floods which left parts of Winchester city centre submerged.

On August 27 30 millimetres of rain fell in 30 minutes causing rivers to form in the streets which cascaded through shops, businesses and places of worship.

Since the floods of 2014 Hampshire County and Winchester City councils have been working to prevent a repeat of the situation six years ago by introducing new flood defences alongside the Environment Agency and Southern Water.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Prior to this in 2010 Southern Water relined and replaced underground drainage pipes in the High Street and the county council provided new gullies as part of those works before repaving the pedestrianised area.

But this latest round of flooding saw many businesses forced to close and lose stock, with some only just being able to reopen following the coronavirus lockdown.

Councillor Rob Humby, deputy leader of Hampshire County Council and executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “With reference to the exceptional weather in Winchester last Thursday (August 27), I appreciate how distressing flooding can be and how damaging it is for residents and businesses, especially as the local economy looks to recover from the Covid-19 lockdown.

“As we saw, with rainfall of this intensity, traditional highway drainage systems and household rainwater systems are quickly overwhelmed and the topography of the centre of Winchester meant that large volumes of water ran off the paved surfaces at tremendous rates.”

Cllr Humby continued: “Highways drainage is regularly maintained, and in light of last week’s severe weather an additional cleanse has been arranged to ensure the highway surface water drains remain fully serviceable. In addition, we are undertaking a full investigation into the flooding. These findings will be published and we will use them to try and identify actions that will either reduce the likelihood of similar events happening again in the future, or reduce the impact. Extreme weather events such as these underline the importance of all our efforts to mitigate and tackle the impact of climate change – whether those are extremes of heat, cold or rainfall.”

A spokesperson from the Environment Agency added: “Since the floods of 2013/14 we have been working in partnership with Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council to support an ongoing programme of flood defences to better protect the city from river flooding.”

“The flash flooding in Winchester city centre on Thursday 27 August was the result of torrential rainfall. With over 30mm of rain falling in 30 minutes it appears the drainage system was unable to drain away the water fast enough.

“This type of flooding is known as surface water flooding for which Hampshire County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority under the Floods and Water Management Act.”