Since 2005, the Environment Agency’s maintenance and operational activities have been assessed using a risk based approach, focussing on areas of greatest flood risk to people and property.  Where the benefit is mainly to land drainage, the Environment Agency has been reducing the extent of watercourse management and reviewing the continued operation of pumping stations in many rural areas of Cumbria and elsewhere.

In January 2011, the Environment Agency notified land occupiers that it would cease to operate four land drainage pumping stations at Johnscales, Pool Bridge, Ulpha and Sampool and that funding for channel maintenance would also be reduced.  There is a fifth pumping station – Levens Catchwater Pumping Station – which the Environment Agency is committed to funding into the future as it reduces flood risk to properties in Levens village.

One option for the future of the pumping stations and channel maintenance is to hand over their operation to the local community by setting up a new Water Level Management Board.   In 2014, the NFU entered into an agreement with the Environment Agency to produce the business cases required to create two new Water Level Management Boards including the Waver Wampool in North West Cumbria and the Lyth and Witherslack area of South Cumbria.

A consultation took place in July and August 2015 to determine whether the Lyth Valley community was in favour of establishing a new Water Level Management Board.  The results of the consultation can be viewed in the Consultation section of the website.

The Environment Agency has now announced a further extension to the Notice period until 31st December 2020.  This is to allow for necessary amendments to the 1991 Land Drainage Act in relation to the methodology for apportioning the costs of running a Board.  Once the legislation has been amended, there will be a further consultation on the proposals taking account of responses to the 2015 consultation – for more details see the Latest News page.

Who should I contact to find out more?

For more information, please contact Dale Gibbons, Environment Agency Senior Advisor, Flood Risk & Coastal Management. Telephone on 02030255729 or email at

A  Lyth and Witherslack Advisory Group has been set up to keep stakeholders informed and consists of representatives from the Local Authority, local landowners, farmers and relevant environmental organisations.

The South Cumbria Water Level Management group represents farmers and landowners in the Lyth Valley drainage area.  For more details, please contact Chairman, Jim Bland on 015395 68576.


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