Plans for nationwide flood tests announced

Almost every aspect of England and Wales' water infrastructure will be tested to check its flood readiness, environment secretary Caroline Spelman is due to announce today (September 30).

The exercise will take place to test national and regional responses to severe flooding from rivers, the sea, reservoirs, groundwater and surface water.

Beginning with a pilot event in November 2010, Exercise Watermark will then go live across England and Wales from 4 to 11 March 2011.

More than 3,500 emergency responders and numerous community groups have already signed up to the country's largest national multi-agency flooding exercise.

Mrs Spelman is due to announce Exercise Watermark, which is aimed at bringing together government bodies, big business and communities to trial responses to a range of scenarios which could occur during a flood emergency.

Mrs Spelman will say later today: "Climate change means flooding will be unavoidable in the future so we must take steps now to analyse the risk and plan ahead. The Flood Forecasting Centre is vital in providing the evidence, but we must ensure that we act on it.

"Exercise Watermark will be a real test of our ability to deal with a range of flooding issues such as burst riverbanks, surface water flooding and reservoir failure.

"This is just one example of the important work that Defra and its agencies are doing to help local communities improve their resilience in a 'big society' approach to flooding."

Luke Walsh



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