The opening of the Salford flood storage basin was a big deal. Anyone who remembers the terrible floods of 2015 will be relieved to see improved flood prevention up and running. The River Irwell has burst its banks many times over the centuries; notably in September and October 1946 5,300 homes were flooded. The most recent flooding was on Boxing Day 2015; after a day and a half of constant rainfall 2,250 homes across Greater Manchester were flooded and over 500 businesses. Water rushing into your home is devastating and for many of the families it took many months for their lives to get back to anything like normal.
The Salford Flood Basin opened in 2018. I intended to visit earlier but other things got in the way and it was a fine but cold wintry day when I eventually got there. I cycled along the River Irwell to the flood basin and entering along the path from Great Cheetham Street West. Arriving at the flood basin I was firstly aware of the size, it is huge (five hectares apparently).
At a cost of £10 million, we are told that the basin is big enough to hold more than 250 Olympic-size swimming pools of water and will protect almost 2,000 homes and businesses from flooding. In addition, the scheme has created an urban wetland habitat and a green space for Salford residents. A 2.5 km footpath runs around the periphery of the basin and on a sunny day this will be a peaceful place to stroll, well away from the bustle of the city.
The photograph at the top of the post shows one of the two kiosks on the site. The colourful designs were decorated by Manchester graffiti artist, kELzO.
How does a flood storage basin work?
The basin is a sort of natural flood plain in the middle of the city. Sitting within a sweeping meander of the River Irwell, the area was excavated and the soil used to create an embankment around the edge of the site. This embankment is a flood defence in itself but if needed the storage basin can be flooded in a controlled way. through an inlet in one corner. When the river levels are high excess water can be diverted into the storage basin where it will be stored and released back into the river when water levels have subsided.
It is hoped that this and the existing flood storage area at Littleton Road will prevent devastation like that seen on Boxing Day 2015 in the future.