The Environment Agency are warning that thousands of people in the North West are at risk from flash flooding, and is urging communities to prepare in advance.
Flash flooding is caused by intense rainfall. It occurs suddenly with little or no warning – often before the emergency services have time to arrive. It tends to happen when heavy rainfall runs off land and quickly swells rivers and streams, or where drainage systems are overwhelmed by rainfall.
To try and help people understand the risks, the Environment Agency has undertaken detailed studies to identify the communities most at risk from this type of flooding.
They will contact local householders and business owners to explain the risks, and how to prepare themselves to stay safe.
A conservation project to improve the quality of the River Petteril in Carlisle has won a national award.
The River Petteril was once renowned for its trout fishing, but recently was identified by the Environment Agency as being "poor" in terms of water quality and its fish populations.
Pollution was identified as a major problem, arising from various sources such as farms, roads, inadequate sewage systems and domestic septic tanks.
Working with farmers much of the focus was on reducing how much animal waste was washed in to watercourses and improving drainage and guttering.
More than 5km of river bank has been fenced to prevent farm animals from reaching the river. More than 2,000 trees have been planted along the river to stabilise the banks and allow more wildlife to feed and breed in the river.
Barriers that stopped fish migrating upstream have been improved.
"We are delighted to have received this award, which recognises the achievements and benefits of this collaborative way of working. None of this would have been possible without the fantastic support and commitment of the local farming community.
"The project will benefit all those concerned with the river and its surroundings, and make it a better place for people and wildlife."
After one of the wettest summers on record, the environment agency are encouraging householders to get to know their flood risks and make plans to protect their properties over the winter.
It has launched 'Flood Action Month' to try and encourage residents and businesses to safeguard their families, possessions and livelihoods.
The Environment Agency's Flood Executive for the North West, Sally Sudworth, said:
"One in six properties are at risk from flooding in England, but only five per cent of people living and working in these locations accepts that risk. Knowing your flood risk and being prepared could save your family, possessions and livelihood.
"You can check your risk of flooding from rivers and the sea on the Environment Agency's online flood map and then find out what you can do to protect yourself on our website or by speaking to us."
"Surface water flooding, which happens when rainfall cannot drain away quickly enough, is harder to predict, so it's important that people get to know flooding hotspots in their neighbourhoods and keep an eye on the weather."
– Sally Sudworth, Environment Agency
The Environment agency list seven ways which people can make to protect homes and businesses.
Check your flood risk from rivers and the sea by typing your postcode into the Flood Map at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.
Develop a flood action plan so you know what to do if flooding is imminent - a useful guide can be found at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.
Sign up for free flood warnings if available in your community by calling the Floodline on 0845 988 1188.
Keep an eye on the weather, look out for surface water flooding, and check the flood risk forecast.
Consider buying flood protection products for your home.
Prepare your home for flooding by storing precious items upstairs or in high cupboards.
Keep up to date with flood warnings in your location.
Planners have approved a proposed scheme to protect the town of Cockermouth from flooding.
The town was badly affected by flood waters in 2009.
Now an Environment Agency scheme to construct walls, embankments and flood gates along the River Cocker and River Derwent has been approved.
360 local homes and 55 businesses will be protected. Funding for the scheme has almost been secured, with a pledge from central government to provide £3.3million. Once built, the scheme will reduce the risk of flooding in Cockermouth to a 1% chance in any one year.
A Utilities firm has been fined £200,000 by the Environment Agency for dumping sewage in the River Keekle.United Utilities has apologised for discharging quantities of untreated sewage into the river.
We did not find any evidence of environmental harm but these discharges had the potential to cause significant environmental harm to the River Keekle and bathing water quality at Seascale and St.Bees. The company failed to comply with legislation intended to protect the environment. In this case action could have been taken sooner by the company to fund improvements to prevent these discharges.