By Fran Southgate
Living Landscape Advisor
There are days when the skies darken, the rain falls and you wonder if it will ever let up. It’s hard to motivate yourself to get outdoors on days like this. But despite relentless rain, we rallied ourselves to visit some leaky dams that we’d installed at the Powdermill Trust for Nature Conservation’s wet woodland site near Catsfield.
I’m so glad we made the effort. The results of just a few dedicated volunteers grafting to create natural flood storage in their local woodland were more spectacular than we could have hoped for. If only half a litre of water per second is flowing through the gap in this picture, about 43,000 litres of slowing the flow is happening per day.
Where previously the water was being ditched along the edge of the valley, the woodland is now so full of water that we couldn't get into it to measure the water depth. But if only 20 centimetres of extra water is stored across this 1 hectare+ wet woodland site (we think it's a lot deeper), it is providing 2 million litres of additional natural flood water storage (or around 2,000 tonnes of water). Slower floodwater is less damaging, cleaner, and also better for wildlife and people whose houses flood downstream in Crowhurst town.
Not only this, but the site is recognised for its important tussock sedge community. The wet woodland has been drying out, with the threat of losing its unusual wildlife interest - and now it is naturally wet once more.
Astonishing really. All from one little leaky dam and a bit of elbow grease with a pick axe!
Despite being soaked to the skin, it made my day to see this. The rainiest days are when we are much less likely to see how well our natural flood management is working, but they are the days when they are having the greatest impact.
With sincere thanks to the Sussex Flow Initiative’s Powdermill Project partners, the Powdermill Trust volunteers and the landowner for their support. We have another leaky dam day planned soon to add to their good work for natural flood management.
NB: Checks were made to ensure we didn't damage any historic features before digging through the bund.