top of page

Project Groundwater

Following the heavy rainfall in January, the water table is rising and there is the possibility of groundwater flooding in some areas of the county in the coming weeks. Check if your property is at risk:

If it is, prepare by:

• Making sure you have a flood plan in place 

• Knowing how and where to turn off your electricity and water supplies 

• If you have sump pumps or temporary flood barriers, checking they are in good working order and ready for use should they be needed

• Checking in with your neighbours to help everyone get ready.

To download a flood plan template, go to: out of hours enquiries, please call 07825 430 978. 

05 February 2024 Communities across the Berkshire Downs and Chiltern Hills should be prepared for groundwater flooding. Residents can check their risk on the government website. If you are in an area that is not covered by the Environment Agency’s groundwater flood alerts but have previously experienced groundwater flooding, you should prepare for groundwater flooding over the coming weeks. Groundwater flooding is currently occurring in areas across the Berkshire Downs and is starting to appear in Buckinghamshire. Groundwater levels are high in the Wycombe area and are being monitored. Buckinghamshire Council have produced groundwater flood maps of the likely locations for groundwater flooding, where it is most likely to emerge and what locations it will impact. These are available for Chesham, Marlow, Hambleden, Wycombe and West Wycombe.

If you are experiencing flooding, you can call Floodline for advice at 03459881188. You should report flooding to Buckinghamshire Council. If it is an emergency and flooding is causing a risk to life, you must call 999.

Groundwater can infiltrate the sewage system. If you have problems flushing your toilet or sewage is emerging, contact Thames Water on 0800 316 9800.Groundwater flooding occurs when water gathers beneath the ground’s surface, causing the water table to rise and eventually reach the surface. Groundwater flooding has some key characteristics that differ from other sources of flooding:

  • Flooding will usually occur days or even weeks after heavy rainfall.

  • Flooding may persist for a long time, often lasting for weeks.

  • Water may emerge on hillsides.

  • Water may rise up through the floors, rather than entering through doors.

Due to these characteristics, and the fact that groundwater flooding is a less common source of flooding, people are often caught unprepared. Furthermore, while local agencies are prepared to support you, no measures are available to lower the water table during a groundwater flood. Therefore, residents and businesses must be prepared that groundwater levels will remain high and should undertake measures to protect their property until the water table naturally falls. The most important thing to do to prepare for groundwater flooding is to have a personal flood plan. Flood Mary’s website has many resources for creating a plan, including a template to fill in. If residents and businesses already have flood plans, this is the time to review them and action what they can. We advise planning for the worst-case scenario of groundwater flooding lasting for weeks. This can be incredibly difficult, as homes, roads, and community spaces can all be affected for long periods of time. If you are struggling and would like someone to talk to, the National Flood Forum is a charity to help, support and represent people at risk of flooding. You can call them on 01299 403 055.Jilly Jordan, Buckinghamshire Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Groundwater flooding can have devastating impacts on those affected. One of the best ways to reduce that impact is to be prepared. Ensure you have your flood plan ready and speak to your community to ensure everyone knows of the risk. Groundwater has long been the forgotten form of flooding, and communities at risk do not get the same level of advice and support as they do with other forms of flooding. We are working to change that with Project Groundwater, and we will continue to share our learning to benefit all who experience groundwater flooding. ”Project Groundwater supports communities to be more resilient to groundwater flooding. The project aims to increase engagement with communities in order to help build understanding and awareness of groundwater flooding. We are working to:

  • improve monitoring of when and where groundwater emerges

  • develop a better groundwater flood warning service that will support residents to take action

  • investigate what nature-based solutions could be used to reduce groundwater flood risk.

This project is funded by Defra as part of the £200 million Flood and Coastal Innovation Programmes which is managed by the Environment Agency. The programmes will drive innovation in flood and coastal resilience and adaptation to a changing climate.

For more information, please visit:  

You can follow the project on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

For more information, please visit: 

Image below: Groundwater flooding during the 2014 groundwater floods

Flooding during the 2014 groundwater flood event in the Chiltern Hills and Berkshire Downs:

About groundwater flooding

Groundwater flooding happens when too much water gathers beneath the ground’s surface, causing the water table to rise upwards and eventually reach the surface.

The flooding can cause damage to property, buildings and roads and frequently overwhelms drainage and sewer networks, contaminating water and making toilets and showers unusable for long periods. This form of flooding can last up to three months.

In the Chiltern Hills and Berkshire Downs, people can experience groundwater flooding from water held in the chalk and gravel aquifers. Almost 200 communities and 70,000 properties may be at risk of flooding from groundwater in this area alone.

Because groundwater flooding typically affects small rural communities, it can be hard for people to support one another. It also means that groundwater flooding often fails to qualify for flood management funding.

Contact details 

Katie Hargrave-Smith, Project Officer Communications and Engagement, Project Groundwater - 

About Project Groundwater 

Project Groundwater Chiltern Hills and Berkshire Downs supports communities to be more resilient to ground-water flooding. 

The six-year programme began in 2021 and is working with communities in nine high-risk flood areas of the Chiltern Hills and Berkshire Downs. It is led by Buckinghamshire Council in partnership with five other local authorities and community flood groups. 

It is part of Defra’s six-year Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation programme, which aims to test innovative and practical actions to increase our resilience and ability to adapt to climate change. It is providing £150m in funding for 25 Local Authority flood and coastal projects. 

For more information on Defra’s programme, please visit: Engage Environment Agency (



bottom of page