Riverside Trust’s forthcoming programme: Going with the Flow – Tides and the Deben Estuary

The Woodbridge Riverside Trust is putting on an ambitious programme of events called “Going with the Flow – Tides and the Deben Estuary”.

There is an evening talk on 16th October and a tide-related exhibition will be open every day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Longshed in Woodbridge from 19th to  27th October, as well as several other lectures and events focussing on the Deben.

The final event in the Community Hall on the evening of Sunday 27 October brings together coastal researchers and local experts to discuss options and challenges for managing the River Deben in the future. 

There is a link to the full programme (with information about booking tickets) here https://www.woodbridgeriversidetrust.org/event/going-with-the-flow-tides-and-the-deben-estuary/

The Woodbridge Riverside Trust are also looking for volunteers to help steward at the exhibition, so if RDA members could spare one morning or afternoon, their help would be very much welcomed, especially given their knowledge of all things tidal. Please contact Annie Leech at annie.l@woodbridgeriversidetrust.org  with offers of help.

Change in Annual Subscription

We will all be aware that over the years, the cost of things has tended to rise. An exception to this however, is our annual subscription which has remained fixed for some 14 years. At our Annual General Meeting last spring, a proposal for a small increase in the subscription, to be applied from April 2020 was agreed unanimously. The new fees for  next year will be £6 for a single and £10 for a couple.

As the majority of members pay by Standing Order, it will of course be necessary to advise the bank accordingly.

Presentation – Managing the 2013 Flood Surge

Where can I launch my surfboard!

Managing the 5th December 2013 tidal surge

The bi-annual River Deben Association talk was delivered by David Kemp, Coastal Team Leader, Environment Agency (EA) to an audience of over 100 members.

When a flood is forecast, the key time is the preparation within the 24 hours before the storm arrives. His fascinating account took us through the EA’s planning in the East Anglia Incident room whilst preparing for the surge of 5th December 2013.

The EA Incident Room (based in Ipswich) is concerned with a range of issues, including shipwrecks, radiation, drought, foot and mouth outbreaks, and flood management.

Through constant analysis of tides and data, its forecasters must take into account: the strength of the surge, whether its timing coincides with high tide, and a phenomenon that occurs in the North Sea called ‘amphidromic points’ – which operate like spokes of a wheel, with waves spinning off the “spokes”, contributing to the surge.

Suffolk has 12 flood alert areas and 40 flood warning areas. Particular areas of concern along the Deben include: Bawdsey Ferry, Martlesham Creek, Methersgate, Felixstowe Hamlet, and Shottisham.


A major task is communicating with the public. An increasing issue is the effect of social media, for example members of the public may go out looking for floods. Before the flood surge in 2013, one  man wanted to know the best place to launch his surfboard! Sometimes road blocks are needed to maintain safety.

Countdown:  the day before the surge

At 6.00 a.m. on the day before the surge, the tidal data is analysed to assess the impact on different areas.

The evening news cycle begins by 4 p.m. so that communities understand the likely impact on their area. Many people won’t evacuate without their pets.

The day of the flood – 5th December 2013

By 6.00 a.m., a severe flood warning is issued, which results in increasing press queries. By 9.00 a.m. the Cabinet Office is briefed. Pumps and barriers are deployed.

2.00 p.m. is the last forecast where the team can take action. VIP visits are arranged, which need logistical support. As the surge passes through, staff have already been deployed to the coast to observe and monitor actual tidal flow, and flight observations are organised. 

By 5.00 p.m. the press are clamouring for news and the first press conference is held in Wells – the first area to be hit. At 7.30 p.m. the tide arrives with the increased power of the surge; it takes 7 hours and 45 minutes to pass through the area. Although there was damage, there was no loss of life within East Anglia.

The future

The rising sea levels in the last 10 years mean that there is an increased risk of low level flooding.   More resources will need to be deployed to minimise damage. But compared with the Netherlands we should consider ourselves lucky; in the event of severe flooding, their nearest point of safe evacuation is to Germany. 

RDA AGM Chair’s Report

Chair’s Report

As I write this, the wind is gusting over 40 knots and reminds me of one of my grandfather’s stories, which always began “It was a cold and stormy night, and the wind was howling in the rigging”. I hope that by the time you receive this magazine, the wind is no longer whistling through your shrouds and the Spring looks set fair for river pleasures.

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Yellow Fish Campaign – The River Deben Association

Groundwork Suffolk and East Suffolk Councils are working together on behalf of the Greenprint Forum to engage the community and inspire awareness of the local natural heritage of the Rivers Deben, Orwell and Waveney.
The project is designed to help people reduce surface water pollution entering local rivers and to improve awareness of the negative impact it has on wildlife and habitats. It aims to encourage all members of the community to work together to make a difference.
A key element of the campaign is reducing litter, particularly with a focus on cigarette butts. Cigarette butts are commonly littered in streets and if they enter the surface water drains, the butts flow through the system and directly contaminate the local River. This why our key message of the campaign is ‘only rain down the drain’.
Groundwork is providing information and practical advice on how to reduce environmental pollution to residents, businesses and schools. A number of events and activities have already taken place with more to come. Public drains are also being marked with a yellow fish symbol as a reminder that all litter or pollution entering the system can cause direct contamination of our rivers and streams.

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Woodbridge Riverside Trust

The Woodbridge Riverside Trust exists to protect, preserve and enhance the character of the Deben riverside for the benefit of everyone, and to educate people about Woodbridge’s maritime heritage. They are engaged in a fascinating project in the Whisstocks Longshed to create a full-scale replica of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon royal burial ship. For more information, see their website.