Flooding – what is Blue Heart trying to achieve and how?

Reduce the frequency and severity of flooding in Eastbourne and southern Wealden

Step 1 – Understand how water is moving through the project area, interacting with the urban and rural environments. We’re doing this by gathering data from organisations, communities and individuals who are familiar with the local area, as well as installing a network of telemetry sensors which give us ‘real time’ information about water levels in the system.

Step 2 – We don’t want to wait and see what happens when there is a major flooding event. Instead, we are using the data collected in Step 1 with computer modelling. This allows us to try out different scenarios – including possible mitigation – to see how an area is likely to be affected, and how different responses might affect the outcome.

Step 3 – Create a dynamic and integrated water management system that uses sensor data and weather forecasts to predict flooding. It will send out flood warnings to authorities and residents. Based on computer modelling, it decides how to respond. For example, it will make additional capacity available to capture rainwater until levels have receded. This means additional water can be released without overwhelming the drainage system. 

There will be a public-facing version of the system which everyone can access to see data around live water levels. 

Step 4 – Use what we’ve learnt to make recommendations for what happens next, after the Blue Heart ends. We’ll share what we have learned, so other parts of the country can benefit. 

Step 5 – Reduce the impact of flooding on homes and businesses by helping everyone understand and be prepared for flooding.

Through engagement and communications, we’re identifying the best resources to understand risks and potential resilience measures.

Responding to climate change

Flooding is only one of the climate-related challenges facing us. We need to adapt in other ways. Our approach needs to be holistic, while thinking through every stage and interdependency. For example, you may feel safe because you live on a hill, but you might still be impacted if your school, office, or power station is in a higher-risk area.

Blue Heart supports local organisations and authorities to prepare. A network of stakeholders is evolving so this work continues beyond the end of the project in 2027.

Put the needs of local people at the heart of decision-making

Although we need the government to make structural changes to the way we live, local people will facilitate these changes. Accommodating the needs and priorities of local people increases effectiveness of new approaches.

We’re creating opportunities for dialogue and consultation so that everyone has the chance to voice their concerns and ideas, and share their knowledge and insight.

Balance the needs of communities 

We’re liaising with people who use local water and green spaces for leisure and wellbeing to understand how changing water levels might impact on their activities.

We are drawing on the knowledge of ecologists – both professional and experienced local enthusiasts – to explore the impact of changing water levels on habitats. We’re commissioning biodiversity monitoring in our project area; the results will inform decision-making about water management beyond the life of Blue Heart.

Try new approaches and share what we learn for the benefit of future projects.

Blue Heart is one of 25 projects around the country trying out new approaches and technology. The projects already compare notes, exchange ideas, and monitor impact. Near the end of the project we’ll reflect on Blue Heart as part of a wider exercise to benefit other local authorities, national agencies and third sector groups.