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Jun 16

Know your risk from rising groundwater levels

It’s a wash out – many couples getting married this month will suffer from the bad weather and continuous rainfall. But the rain is dampening the spirits at bigger events like Royal Ascot and Glastonbury as well. What many people don’t know is that there actually is a British monsoon season, otherwise known as the ‘Return of the Westerlies’, in late June and early July. After weak westerly winds in spring, they come back with more force – bringing rain in their wake. And more rain means more flooding.

According to the Environment Agency, around 5 million people, in 2 million properties, live in a flood risk area. Groundwater flooding can be a particular problem. A period of continued rain fall can raise water table levels as more water infiltrates into the ground. Groundwater also flows from levels of higher ground down to lower ground. This means that groundwater flooding is more likely to occur in lower levels. It takes longer to go away, too, sometimes weeks, as groundwater needs time to dissipate and flow away underground.

Most at risk are properties in low-lying areas or properties with basements. Most insurers don’t cover rising water tables as opposed to flash flooding or storm damage, so it’s important to know your risks.
There are limited measures you can take to protect your property from damage from rising water tables, as traditional means like sandbags won’t work – the water will come through the floor, not the door.
There are some preventative measures you can take:

  • Consider sealing your basement with a water-proof membrane – the Environment Agency can give advice on this
  • A floor constructed from reinforced concrete and a damp proof membrane can help keep groundwater out
  • Suspended floors with a void for the water to fill before it emerges through the floor are also an option
  • Raise the floor level if there is sufficient head room

There is also some advice we can give you to reduce any damage:

  • Keep a close eye on any flood warnings and expected rainfall
  • Make sure you have a flood plan on what to do should you be affected
  • Move any valuable goods to a higher floor – don’t wait for the water to arrive
  • Keep hold of any important documents
  • Keep in touch with your tenants if you have any concerns

If you would like more information on flooding from groundwater, please contact your Lead Local Flood Authority or your local Environment Agency.

About the author

Chris Rowell Photograph Chris Rowell, Business Development Executive, has been working for the Hamilton Fraser group, which includes well-known brands Total Landlord Insurance, mydeposits, the Property Redress Scheme and Client Money Protection, for over 12 years. He is Cert CII qualified and an established presenter at industry events on how to manage property risks.  Chris represents Total Landlord Insurance at exhibitions and landlord forums throughout the UK, connecting with landlords and property professionals, giving advice on all aspects buy-to-let. Give him a ring on 07983 150 433 or email Chris.Rowell@hamiltonfraser.co.uk.

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