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Cracked embankment

Engineering flood defences

The Thames floodplain

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Saving London from floods
Engineering flood defences

London there are between 70 and 100 thousand properties at risk of flooding. The problem is greater in London than in any other part of the UK because of the huge size of the city. Much of London lies within the floodplain of the River Thames and its tributories.

Flood protection
Nearly 200 km of raised walls and embankments protect London from flooding. Also important is the Thames barrier and other gates that can be closed to prevent floods.
Ageing infrastructure
London's flood defences are getting old. The Environment Agency is working with a number of engineering firms to work out how best to restore and improve the defences economically and effectively.
Engineering solutions
Engineers picture the floodplain of the Thames as a series of large 'bays' (embayments) each protected from flooding by the surrounding defences.
The approach to designing better systems for flood protection makes extensive use of physical, and mathematical modelling methods.
The Babtie Group (now renamed as Jacobs, carried out a contract for a detailed study of the flood defences along 50 km of the river bank upsteam of the Thames Barrier. The picture is an example of what the Group's engineers have found and shows a river wall with big cracks in the brickwork.
The company Arup is carrying out similar studies downstream of the Thames Barrier.

Submitted by: Andrew Burton, Babtie Group, 17 January 2007

The Arup web site has diagrams to show how engineers divide the Thames floodplain into a series of 'bays'. Also on the web site there is also an example of : renewed embankment and flood defence.
Find out whether your home is at risk from flooding from the Environment Agency's floodline web site. See 'What's in your backyard?'.

See also: Civil engineering Structures

Project sponsors:

City sponsors:
ASE London Region
Nuffiled Curriculum Centre