Members of the London assembly environment committee were recently told by GARDIT [the General Aquifer Research and Development Team responsible for investigating means of bringing groundwater levels under control] that 70 mega litres of water per day must be pumped out to prevent flooding or damage to London's infrastructure and deep tunnels and sewers. The foundations of tall buildings are also in danger from rising water levels. London Underground currently pumps out 30,000 cubic metres of water a day from its tunnels, that's enough to fill around 3,000 swimming pools, and roughly 4,500 litres of this is removed from Victoria Station alone.
GARDIT, which is in the third year of its five-year investigation, is successfully tackling the problem by drilling boreholes across London to extract the water. So far seven boreholes have been activated in Merton, Streatham, Honour Oak, Wanstead, Brixton, Battersea and Islington.
However, the committee is extremely concerned that no provision has been made to address the rising groundwater issue in 'Towards a London Plan', the Mayor's initial Spatial Development Strategy document. Members also expressed concern that it is not possible to identify clearly who will be responsible for ensuring that groundwater levels are kept under control when GARDIT is disbanded after its five-year investigation.
Samantha Heath, chair of the environment committee, said: 'Many new and exciting buildings could save London from flooding and put this water to good use, for example in air conditioning systems. The GLA has already made plans to do this in our new building at More London. The committee is concerned that GARDIT has only a five-year plan and provision must be made to investigate the potential situation in ten or 20 years time. Londoners will need to be assured that the risk from flooding is properly considered in the mayor's London Plan. We need to encourage new developments to take this issue into account.'
GARDIT - General Aquifer Research and Development Team is a consortium of organisations including: Thames Water Utilities, The Environment Agency, London Underground, The Metropolitan Water Company, British Telecom, Association of British Insurers, British Property Federation, Loss Prevention Council, Government Office for London, Railtrack and the Cities of London and Westminster.