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Water wheel barrage concept could solve River Severn flood challenge


Construction ​of a water ​wheel barrage ​to manage tidal ​flow and flood ​water on the ​River Severn ​has been put ​forward to ​resolve ongoing ​flooding issues ​in towns like ​Tewkesbury, ​Upton on Severn ​and Bewdley. ​

The proposal ​involves ​building a 800m ​long barrage ​across the ​Severn at ​Sharpness ​– the ​ideal location, ​according to ​the project’​s inventors ​– to ​prevent tidal ​flow upstream ​in a bid to ​allow flood ​water time to ​dissipate. ​

The concept ​is the ​brainchild of ​former Atkins ​head of ​technology for ​floating ​structures Rod ​Rainey and ​Severn River ​flood expert ​Simon Hopkins ​who say using ​the barrage to ​generate ​electricity ​could make it ​self-funding. ​

“The ​End to Higher ​Flooding scheme ​is a modern ​version of a ​water wheel ​which can be ​used to ​generate ​electricity and ​pump flood ​water away,​” said ​Hopkins. “​On the River ​Severn the tide ​pushes water ​upstream which ​does not have ​time to return ​before the next ​incoming tide. ​This is ​repeated with ​rising tide ​cycles and ​prevents ​floodwater from ​dissipating. ​

“The is ​a 38km long ​channel in the ​river between ​Gloucester and ​Sharpness, so ​what if that ​area, which ​covers 26km2 ​was empty of ​water ahead of ​a flood event? ​Our analysis ​shows that that ​capacity would ​allow flood ​flows to ​dissipate three ​times faster ​and would break ​the cycle of ​economic damage ​from flooding ​upstream.”​

The steel ​water wheels ​would be 30 to ​50m in diameter ​and be built in ​50m sections on ​land that would ​then be floated ​out into ​position and ​rock anchored ​into place. The ​wheels would ​rotate slowly ​– 1 ​revolution per ​second – ​which Hopkins ​says would be ​slow enough for ​fish to pass ​unhindered. ​

“The ​sections could ​be taken out ​and floated to ​land for ​maintenance,​” he ​explains. ​“The ​design uses 30% ​less steel than ​conventional ​water wheels ​and no concrete,​ which make it ​an environmentally ​sound solution.​” ​



The 50m wide ​wheels would be ​floated out ​into position ​and rock ​anchored in ​place ​

Hopkins ​estimates that ​the project ​would cost ​£100M to ​£200M to ​build and using ​the wheels to ​generate ​electricity ​when pumping ​out floodwater ​means that it ​could pay for ​itself in three ​to five years. ​He estimates ​that the ​project could ​be built within ​a year. ​

“We ​believe that ​the barrage ​would need to ​pump out flood ​water for 36 ​days a year,​” said ​Hopkins. “​Currently ​flooding issues ​affect towns ​upstream for up ​to six months ​because the ​water simply ​can’t get ​away.” ​



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