Broken drainage pumps led to dramatically high levels of water in Pymoor drain

A DRAINAGE engineer has paid tribute to the farming community and his staff who rallied round when broken pumping equipment left the water level in a drain at Pymoor at an all time high.

Staff worked round the clock to monitor the situation and rake out weed, while local farmers helped set up temporary pumps and were the “eyes and ears” of the Littleport and Downham Drainage Board.

Board engineer Andrew Newton said: “Between December 19 and the new year we had two-and-half inches of rain, and unfortunately we were down on capacity, so it was very dramatic. People are saying it was the highest water level they had ever known. We pump the water into the Hundred Foot Drain, some nearby fields were waterlogged, but no properties were flooded.”

Little Downham resident Eddie Holden has called for an inquiry into the breakdowns, claiming no maintenance had been carried out on the affected pumps through the summer.

“Someone is to blame for these pumps not to be working” he said. “Water was getting near to flooding houses, so I think an inquiry should be held.”

Mr Newton says maintenance work had not been cut back, but has promised to review the situation once things get back to normal.

“We will review events and see what lessons can be learned and how improvements can be made in the future,” he said. “I would like to thank my staff and the farming community who worked so hard.”

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It was one of three submersible pumps at Hundred Foot pumping station near Pymoor that was faulty and had to be taken out; while a sluice gate valve at the Oxlode pumping station sheared and failed, leaving one of two pumps inoperable.

Mr Newton said: “We called in someone whose father used to work for the drainage board, and he helped get a spare diesel pump at Hundred Foot Bank going. That was set running for three hours on Christmas Eve.”

The two pumps at Oxlode are now fully operational, and things are due to be back to normal at the Hundred Foot pumping station by the end of next week.

“Water levels are back to their usual winter level,” said Mr Newton. “As long as we do not have any more excessive rain, there will be no more problems of waterlogging.”

*In a separate incident, a pump at Welches Dam on the Old Bedford River failed, but a replacement pump brought in from Mepal was not needed.