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Flooding and Fast Flows

Flood Risk

The tidal Thames can be subject to storm surges, an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, and can cause flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, known as tidal surge flood. Despite there is no evidence for significant changes in future storm surges, the risk of tidal surge flood is likely to increase due to the rising sea level.

Excessive and intense rainfall could also cause the water level to rise in the river and increase the river flow.  It can be resulted in water being overflow onto the surrounding banks or shores, known as fluvial or river flood.

Find out more about London’s climate change by the Met Office

Flood defences

The Environment Agency (EA) published the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan (TE2100) in 2012 to understand and develop a plan to manage the flood risk on the Thames estuary until the year 2100. In 2019 TE2100 team began a 10-Year full Review and update of the plan.  The updated Plan will include updated recommendations for managing flood risk and delivering the wider aims of the plan. The review and update will be completed in 2022.

The PLA has been working closely with the TE2100 team, through being part in the advisory board and the participation of working group, to ensure the risk of flooding and the associated impacts on the tidal Thames are minimised.   The PLA has also been incorporate the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan into our day-to-day work, such as through licencing applications and planning consultations.

Find out more about Thames Estuary 2100 Plan

Fast Flows and Safety

The Ebb Tide Flag, a warning system for the fluvial flow condition in the upper Thames, was developed in 2011. Future summers and autumns are expected to have an even higher number of black flags than the previous prediction due to the larger reduction in summer rainfall. In contrast, future winters are expected to increase the number of red flags, but the increase is likely to be slightly less than predicted previously due to the slightly less increase in winter rainfall. Live update of the Ebb Tide Flag Warning and the tidal information is available here.

To further minimise the risk and raise awareness of the issue to the public, the PLA has been working alongside other organisations to make the river a safe place for all users. Find out more about the Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum here.