New flood resource assesses groundwater, 9m homes at risk this winter

A decade in development, a new data analytics tool shows the extent to which British households are vulnerable to heavy rain and – crucially – poor groundwater management.

white and brown concrete building near body of water during daytime

GeoSmart’s FloodSmart Analytics provides the most detailed and nationally consistent picture of areas at risk of flooding ever created in a bid to help people better prepare and respond to emergencies which currently cost the country £1.5billion annually. 

While a number of contributing factors are taken into account, this is the first time modelling has provided comprehensive insights into groundwater dangers. Currently, around £200million of the UK’s overall ‘flooding bill’ comes from this aspect, more than the total cost of all tidal flooding, posing a direct threat to some 5% of all households in the country.

Hotspots for groundwater include Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Kent, Surrey and London. In addition to posing its own risk, groundwater increases the impact of flash flooding and river overflow incidents, meaning understanding the causes of problems, and effective mitigation efforts, is key to climate adaptation.

‘It’s clear that the risk from groundwater flooding has been significantly underestimated or mis-reported until now, leaving risk managers with inadequate data to properly manage the risks and preventable damage to millions of homes across the UK,’ said Dr Paul Ellis, Managing Director at GeoSmart Information. ‘With these findings – which are the results of 10 years of research and development – homeowners and insurers can now see the risk from all sources of flooding, including groundwater, at high resolution down to individual property level, which will help them to prevent, mitigate, and guard against the risks far more effectively.

‘We have also brought a better understanding of risk factors affecting sewers and basements and shown how catchments respond differently depending on groundwater conditions,’ he continued. ‘Notably the GeoSmart Groundwater Forecast is predicting very high groundwater levels for the winter ahead and this is currently increasing river flooding likelihood in some parts of the country. Once you can see the role of groundwater driving increased risk from rivers and flash flooding, you are in a much better position to manage these risks.’

You can find the full analysis here.

More on flooding: 

How do you solve a problem like Matlock’s flood risk?

Property flood resilience guide goes live

River Thames Scheme: Sustainable land use, nature recovery, flood protection

Image:  Chris Gallagher


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