CHARD residents are being urged to back an initiative to reduce local flooding issues through a pilot project that could see more than 800 water butts handed to homes in the town.

The butts, provided free by Wessex Water, are being trialled by a partnership of organisations including the water company, Somerset Council and Somerset Rivers Authority, to cut local flood risk.

Targeted towards residents in certain parts of Chard, including the Crimchard and Glynswood areas, the authorities hope the water butts can help reduce the build-up of surface water that has contributed heavily to previous flooding.

The pilot will see residents in selected areas written to encouraging them to install a free water butt to collect up to 200 litres of rainwater, holding it for reuse on gardens or other porous areas or for gradual release during drier spells.

Wessex Water will offer advice on when to drain water butts ahead of forecasted heavy rain.

Vicky Farwig, Wessex Water’s flood risk and drainage strategy manager, said: “This pilot project is one of a whole series of measures to reduce flood risk in Chard – and it’s one in which we’re hoping residents can play a proactive part in helping towards protecting their town.

“When it rains heavily, that rainwater often drains directly into the sewer network, which can quickly become overwhelmed, leading to flooding and pollution problems for homes and businesses.

“Storing some of this in a water butt may seem like a small contribution but by embracing this challenge as a community, it can make a difference."

Hundreds of Chard properties were flooded in 2021 as intense rainfall caused a surge in surface water that overwhelmed the drainage infrastructure.

Since then, the authorities have worked together to identify and deliver the most effective ways to reduce flood risk, including better maintenance of highway gullies and culverted watercourses, the relining of sewers and the creation of areas to temporarily hold water away from the sewer system.

Cllr Dixie Darch, Somerset Council executive lead member for environment and climate change, said: “We’re continuing the partnership work with Wessex Water and Somerset Rivers Authority to come up with the actions that will add resilience to drainage networks in the town.

“These include enhanced maintenance, investigative work and a variety of further measures.’’

Cllr Mike Stanton, chairman of Somerset Rivers Authority, said: “Climate change means we’re going to get more and more flash flood events. And it’s wasteful to use clean and expensive mains water for garden irrigation. So although it sounds odd at first glance, this is a real way of reducing clean water usage."