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York's Foss Flood Barrier Put to the Test

Foss Flood Barrier 061213

12:05pm 6th December 2013

Staff at the Environment Agency have been testing the doors to the Foss Barrier in York to make sure its control room stands up to the challenge of winter flooding.

Teams built a temporary flood barrier around the control room building, damming off an area which was filled with water to make sure the doors would work under the pressure of a major flood.

In tests that replicated the River Foss overtopping, the seals of each door were tested to ensure they would remain water tight.

Glenn Brady at the Environment Agency said: “We regularly perform vital checks and maintenance on the Foss Barrier so it continues to protect the city and people of York.

“Residents of York are urged to check their flood risk and take precautions to protect themselves. Even though you may be in a defended area, plans should be made for the possibility of flooding. 

“You can do this by registering to receive free Environment Agency flood warnings and by making a family flood plan.”

Due to the delicate relationship between the River Ouse and the River Foss, rising water in the Ouse can often result in a reaction in the Foss. A rapid increase in the volume of water in the Ouse can force the Foss back on itself, potentially causing it to overtop its banks and flood surrounding properties.

The Foss Barrier, a moveable barrier system weighing 16.5 tonnes, isolates the River Foss from the River Ouse, stopping water from surging back upstream. When the barrier is lowered, the optimum level of water in the Foss is maintained by pumping water around the barrier, directly into the Ouse.

Eight pumps automatically maintain the water level of the River Foss and are capable of pumping 30,000 litres of water per second.  The Foss Barrier protects around 2,500 properties.

The tests performed on the Foss Barrier come as the Environment Agency stages a month-long flood awareness campaign.

There are simple steps people can take to help protect their homes and families:

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