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"I asked them what the process is if we flood again in the next few weeks and there’s nothing"

Sunday 12 March 2023

"I asked them what the process is if we flood again in the next few weeks and there’s nothing"

Sunday 12 March 2023

The Infrastructure Minister has said his department is in talks with Jersey Water about keeping water levels in Grands Vaux reservoir below capacity to protect against future flooding - but nearby residents remain concerned that there appear to be no plans for the immediate term.

Helier Smith, the chief executive for Jersey Water, has also said "the role that the reservoir might play" in a future flood resilience strategy was discussed at a recent meeting involving Grands Vaux residents - but that it would present "engineering and operational challenges".

A meeting – attended by around 100 Grands Vaux residents and business owners – was recently hosted by Infrastructure Minister Deputy Tom Binet alongside Housing Minister David Warr, Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf, officers from the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Department and representatives from Andium Homes and Jersey Water.

An "emotional" meeting

The meeting, which Deputy Binet admitted became "emotional" at times, was held to provide residents with an update on the solutions being developed to manage flooding in the area.

In January, torrential rainfall overwhelmed drains across the island and caused Grands Vaux reservoir to overflow.


Pictured: Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet recently hosted a meeting to update Grands Vaux residents on flooding resilience plans.

A number of residents were forced to leave their homes – some with the aid of an inflatable raft – with 18 households currently remaining in temporary or alternative accommodation while property repairs take place.

"They are not focusing on immediate measures"

One of the residents who attended Thursday night’s meeting, Kerry Goguelin (pictured top) – who has launched a petition calling for the government to produce and publish a "flood response action plan" – said concerns were raised over the immediate protections available should further flooding occur.

"They are looking at what they can do with the drains but that is not going to happen any time soon," she said, adding that the possibility of rebuilding the worst-affected homes – those in Nicholson Close – and moving them to a different part of the estate was also discussed.

"That’s a massive piece of work. They are looking so far into the future that they are not focusing on immediate measures," she said.

"They don’t have a strategy for right now and they are working on flood plans, but I asked them what the process is if we flood again in the next few weeks and there’s nothing.

"Hopefully they took away our thoughts and concerns. I think they have realised that they need to process this flood plan immediately because, until last night, they didn’t realise how unhappy we still are."

"Fantastic" support from social housing provider

However, she said she "couldn’t fault Andium Homes" who had been "fantastic", adding that she had recently been able to meet chief executive Ian Gallichan to share her concerns.

Remodelling water management in the Grands Vaux catchment, options for additional flood protection defences and an improved warning process for when heavy rainfall is predicted were among the topics discussed at Thursday’s meeting.

Grands Vaux Flooding: Drain at Les Ruisseau - CREDIT: Jon Guegan

Pictured: Grands Vaux was hit by major flooding in January.

Deputy Binet said: "It became, understandably, emotional at times but I think it was a productive meeting and that there is a reasonable understanding of the issues on which we are seeking further details."

He added: "Talks are going on between IHE and Jersey Water and there is extensive modelling work taking place to see whether the reservoir could, in part, be used as a flood management tool by keeping it at a lower level in certain months."

"Engineering and operational challenges" need to be addressed in flood resilience strategy

Helier Smith, the Chief Executive for Jersey Water, said: "Quite understandably residents and businesses are concerned about the imminent and longer-term flood risks to their properties.

"We were at the meeting to reassure them that the reservoir wasn’t the cause of the flooding, the measures that we took on the day did help to reduce the flooding and that the dam structure is perfectly safe."

Helier Smith Grands Vaux Reservoir Jersey Water

Jersey Water CEO Helier Smith said using the reservoir as part of a future flood resilience strategy presented "engineering and operational challenges".

He continued: "We spoke about the importance of the Grands Vaux catchment for the whole island’s water supply - as the source of 20% of all the water we consume in Jersey - and the need to preserve our water storage capacity to deal with drought.

"We also discussed the work we are doing to look at the role that the reservoir might play in a future flood resilience strategy but highlighted the engineering and operational challenges that would present."

Zoë Hibbs, Head of Communications for Andium Homes, said: "Work to dry out and repair the affected properties is progressing well.

"The first household will be returning to its property next week, and we expect to be able to start giving a more definite return date for others within the next week or so.

"We are doing all we can to help other residents return to their homes as quickly as possible, ensuring the properties are thoroughly dried out before installing new kitchens and flooring.

"We are continuing to work closely with the Government of Jersey and Jersey Water to look at short-, medium- and long-term flood plans and other measures which improve flood resilience for our properties and residents."


Express recently spoke to Andium Homes and Jersey Water about their response to the recent flooding - you can listen to those podcasts below or via your favourite podcast provider...


"Major incident" declared as overflowing reservoir threatens 30 more homes

WATCH: Urgent call for hotel rooms as floods leave islanders homeless

WATCH: Homes left without electricity as heavy rain causes flash floods

Grands Vaux reservoir can "withstand magnitudes of worse weather"

Some Grands Vaux residents unable to return to flood-hit homes for months

Action taken as Jersey preps for heavy rain weeks after major floods

New drainage system to combat flooding 'would cost £200m'

FOCUS: How are new homes being protected from flooding in Jersey?

FOCUS: Inside 'Operation Fluvius' and the risks around Grands Vaux

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