Longrun Meadow already provides a great space for people as well as wildlife, and at the same time performs an important function as a storage area for water when the Tone can’t cope with the amount of rainfall it is carrying. This spring, we are looking at improving this even further by undertaking works on the drain running from Castle School car park into the Tone, as part of the European-funded SPONGE 2020 project.
SPONGE 2020 is funded through the Interreg 2 Seas programme of the EU and aims to help cities adapt to water-related effects of climate change by using nature-based solutions. This basically means returning ecosystems to a more natural state, or introducing natural processes into an otherwise man-made environment. In Taunton, we are looking at using Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to reduce the amount of rainfall that reaches the sewers and waterways, and to improve the habitats and wellbeing of wildlife and people alike. For this purpose, the SPONGE 2020 team is looking for suitable locations to site SuDS.
At Longrun Meadow, Friends of Longrun Meadow identified an existing drain as a potential opportunity. The drain is fed by a surface water sewer system and leads straight into the main river, carrying with it pollutants from roads and car parks and providing little suitable habitat for wildlife. Its straight line channel also means that in high rainfall events water rushes straight through into the Tone, contributing to the levels of the river rising quickly.
We are currently working on a proposal to the County Council and the Environment Agency to introduce a reed bed into the first section of the drain to allow sediment and other pollutants to settle out; and to meander the channel slightly, allowing more vegetation to take out pollutants in the channel. This will improve water quality, attenuate the flow and provide better habitat for wildlife.
Similar projects have been delivered by Thames 21 in London (http://www.susdrain.org/case-studies/case_studies/glenbrook_wetlands_enfield.html) or in Solihull (http://www.susdrain.org/case-studies/case_studies/blythe_valley_park_solihull_west_midlands.html) amongst others.