UK floods: Somerset Levels Dutch pumps start work

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Media captionA total of 13 high-capacity water pumps have been brought in from the Netherlands

Two pumps from the Netherlands are being used to try to reduce water levels at the flooded Somerset Levels.

The area began flooding more than six weeks ago and the continuing heavy rain has since flooded dozens of homes.

In all 13 Dutch pumps were brought in by the Environment Agency and will be used to divert water to try and cut levels on the River Tone.

The agency said the scheme would reduce the flood risk in the villages of Northmoor and Saltmoor.

The two high-capacity pumps currently operating are situated in Dunball - others have been installed in Beer Wall.

When they all are up and running they will move 7.3 million tonnes of water each day from the Somerset Levels

The pumps would be used to send water down the River Sowey and the King's Sedgemoor Drain to the River Parrett at Dunball near Bridgwater, Melvin Wood from the Environment Agency said.

"On the River Tone catchment we will see the levels dropping hopefully within days, but it is dependent on whether further water comes down the river from further rainfall we might receive," he said.

"Within days we should see levels dropping within the Parrett."

Image copyright James Healey
Image caption Snow fell in some parts of Somerset on Thursday

Mr Wood said it "may take weeks" for the water levels on the flooded moors to clear.

"But we're talking about getting the levels down so that we can start our major pumping operation on Currymoor and the moors upstream of Langport within several weeks."

However some residents said they were worried about water being diverted into areas not currently flooded.

Mr Wood said contingency plans had been drawn up to prevent that happening.

"We've got additional pumping at Beer Wall, sandbagged properties at Aller Drove and we're putting additional sandbagging in at Westonzoyland," he said.

Two severe flood warnings remain in place in the Somerset Levels, at Salt Moor and North Moor including Moorland, and at A361 East Lyng to Burrowbridge.

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