A TRIAL pumping scheme will start today to help reduce the floodwater in Buckskin by transporting it to the River Loddon.

The plan has been developed by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue, the Environment Agency and Hampshire County Council, as the first phase of a scheme that is hoped could reduce floodwater in some areas of Buckskin.

Work will start this afternoon to trial pumping the groundwater from around the West Ham electricity sub-station, in Worting Road.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue’s high volume pump will drain floodwater from around the sub-station, taking it along more than one kilometre of hose to reach the River Loddon.

Specialist high-volume pump teams from the New Forest will work with Basingstoke firefighters and the military to deploy the equipment and continually monitor it while in operation.

It will work around the clock for at least two to three days.

The high volume pumps, which have been deployed around the country to help relieve flood-hit areas, can move 7,000 litres of water per minute.

Steve Foye, area manager at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our high volume pumps can remove huge volumes of water and by running it over a number of days we hope to have an impact in reducing water levels.”

The Environment Agency gave the green light for the scheme to go ahead after looking at the water flows in the river.

Councillor Seán Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “I’m glad that Hampshire County Council highways teams have been able to play their part in this multi-agency work to try to alleviate some of the flooding in the area. Teams have been clearing ditches, putting in traffic management and assisting with the plan to pump away water, and I’m pleased the Environment Agency has now given the go-ahead.”

Water levels will be monitored during the trial, to ensure that pumping can be stopped if there is any risk of the river overtopping its banks.

If successful, the approach would be used to try and remove the water from the flooded areas of Buckskin.

However, this would be more complicated as the water would need to be filtered using a series of pipes and high volume pumps.

More than 80 houses in the Buckskin area have now been evacuated because of rising groundwater levels caused by the highest winter rainfall for decades.

The ground is completely saturated resulting in water coming up through the chalk lying under Buckskin, and has seeped up to the surface.

Although the flooding in Buckskin has stabilised, the water levels are not going down, despite tankers pumping for the last 18 days, taking water to sewage treatment stations.

Groundwater experts have predicted that doing nothing could mean water levels might not reduce until April.

Tony Curtis, chief executive of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said: “We have committed to doing everything we can to help people in Buckskin who are living in appalling conditions or have been forced to leave their houses and live in temporary accommodation.

“The water will not go down by itself as the water table is so high and the ground is saturated. Tankering the water away is only having a limited benefit. We hope that the trial will be successful so that we can look at how it could be used to help give the residents more hope of the water levels going down in the near future.”

Borough council leader Cllr Clive Sanders added: “This marks the important next step in trying to return Buckskin to normal so that the residents can begin to rebuild their lives after what is proving one of the most persistent and harrowing situations which a community could have to face. I have every admiration for the resilience and fortitude of the people of Buckskin.”