[See this post on the SRA flood risk consultation, open till 21 December 2018.]
Stoke St Gregory, like most villages, has its fair share of hotspots vulnerable to flash flooding after heavy rain. Flooding can be avoided in most areas by regular maintenance of the drains and ditches. There is a particular vulnerability around Huntham lane and Broad Lane which is being addressed by current improvements to the brook and drain which carry water from the outskirts of North Curry to West Sedgemoor.
The other major aspect of flooding is from the River Tone, affecting Curload and Stanmoor. The Somerset Levels form a unique area where water has been managed for about 900 years. It is important to understand that the moors either side of the rivers Parrett and Tone are not simply flood plains, but wetlands designed to flood at certain times. They act as buffers to hold excess water from the rivers in a relatively controlled way. The water on the moors runs naturally to the various pumping stations, and is pumped back into the river to be carried out to sea when river levels drop.
Normally the system can cope without flooding main roads or endangering houses, but after long periods of sustained heavy rain, when the moors have no more capacity for absorbing excessive flows from the river, we experience exceptional events: the levels beside the Tone continue to rise until Curry Moor begins to spill into Northmoor and Saltmoor. At this point, further excess water running into Curry Moor tends to run north, flooding the A361, so that once the Tone has reached a certain level, even though this may be alarmingly close to the top of the south bank, it is unlikely to rise above it.
The worst event in recent memory took place in February 2014, when the Tone bank did overtop slightly in a few places. A small number of houses suffered, but fortunately not the deep flooding experienced by some neighbouring villages. Since that time, a major stretch of the Tone has been dredged to increase capacity, and high waters are subsiding more quickly.
Rising sea levels and changing weather patterns leave us no room to be complacent, but the Environment Agency, The new Somerset Rivers Authority and the Internal Drainage Boards are all actively working to improve water management in the area.