Faulty monitor delayed flood warnings in Galgate

A broken gauge on a river near Galgate resulted in a delay in flood warnings, a meeting in the village heard this week.

Photo Neil Cross
Steve Coultas clearing out his home in Galgate
Photo Neil Cross Steve Coultas clearing out his home in Galgate

Around 300 Galgate residents attended a meeting on Tuesday December 5, where the Environment Agency revealed monitoring equipment on the river Conder had stopped working.

This resulted in a delay in flood warnings when the river broke its banks and caused widespread flood damage to properties and businesses in Galgate.

The equipment has now been fixed, but residents pointed out that there was no monitoring equipment on Whitley Beck, where they say most of the flooding stemmed from.

Flooding in Galgate on Wednesday night. Photo by Julie Reeve.

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith, said: “I understand engineers had been out to look at the gauge the day before the flooding, due to concerns over it not working properly.

“I share resident’s concerns over new housing developments possibly contributing to the catastrophic problems.

“The Government has just announced it will give Lancaster City Council a further £130,000 to support the delivery of Bailrigg Garden Village. It is critical that all the appropriate investigations are done prior to any permissions given to ensure that this development doesn’t contribute to more flooding events.”

Tony Breakell, fron Galgate, said: “Residents were very critical of the failure by the authorities to clean out blocked street drains and gullies - the first time gullies were cleaned was in the days after the flood!

Flooding in Galgate on Wednesday night. Photo by Julie Reeve.

“Anger was also directed at the Environment Agency over their failure to provide a proper warning before the floods struck.

“It emerged that the Agency only had one water gauge in Galgate, installed on the river Conder - and this wasn’t working properly at the time of the flooding due to a ‘calibration’ fault.

“That it has now been fixed was little consolation.

“Residents went on to point out that the most of the flooding had been caused by the Whitley beck and not the Conder.

“Since there was no water gauge on Whitley beck, this meant that the Environment Agency was ‘unsighted’ as to how the flooding was developing.

“Other important issues were also raised and will need addressing by follow-up actions.

“Chief amongst these was the recent housing developments in Galgate, upstream of the village centre, which had increased the rate of rainwater run-off and so made the flooding worse.

“Galgate had flooded on too many occasions in the past, but never as severely as on November 22.”

Anthony Swarbrick, Environment Agency flood manager, said: “A technical issue has been identified with the gauge on the River Conder which led to the trigger for the second flood warning for Galgate to be delayed. W

“We have a team working on repairing the equipment. In the meantime, we are monitoring floods more closely issue warnings earlier. A public drop-in event for residents will be planned for before Christmas to discuss this and other issues. This will include an evening session for people unable to attend during working hours.”