CABINET CALL: By Coun Peter Coupland
For this column, I’m going to take a look at the main Internal Drainage Boards covering our district – The Welland and Deepings, The South Holland, The North Level and Black Sluice Internal Drainage Boards, otherwise known as IDBs.
IDBs were set up by government and are statutory public bodies responsible for land drainage and water management.
The majority of land in our district is below high tide level hence the need for ‘artificial’ drainage and the work of IDBs.
Our four IDBs together cover around 300 square miles, controlling approximately 1,000 miles of drainage channels, 35 pumping stations and 25 sluices.
An annual budget of around £5 million is spent on controlling water levels in drainage channels to prevent flooding.
Significant expenditures have included refurbishment and repairs to Holbeach Sluice (£670K) Donington Pumping Station (£495K) Wygate Park relining (£700K) Five Towns Pumping Station (£250K) and Risegate Eau Sluice (£250K).
This gives you an idea of the scale, cost and expertise required to ‘keep your feet dry’ – around £30 of every household’s council tax bill is used to fund our IDBs.
Under the Land Drainage Act 1991, each IDB exercises a general power of supervision over all matters relating to water level management in its district.
So anyone building or altering a weir, bridge, embankment, culvert or similar obstruction must first seek the consent of the IDB.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is the government team responsible for IDBs and the work of IDBs is closely linked with the Environment Agency (EA) and Lead Local Food Authorities.
The boards are governed by local land owners and district councillors – there are always more councillors.
The last major local flood was in 1947 when the Welland river overflowed and the Coronation relief scheme was then constructed around Spalding.
During the drier summer months, the IDBs raise water levels by taking water from main rivers to ensure there is sufficient water for irrigation and environmental purposes.
IDBs also monitor water levels in our drainage channels 24 hours a day, working tirelessly and in an unsung manner to keep the district free from flooding.
The IDBs deserve a big thank you for the maintenance and control of our drainage systems – keep up the good work!