Portman Road flooding battle

IPSWICH Town have been forced to tackle two new opponents after water problems plagued their Portman Road pitch and the Cobbold Stand.Water flooded into the corridor underneath the Cobbold Stand - the lowest point at the stadium - after a failure at Anglian Water's pumping station in Alderman Road for the second time this year.

IPSWICH Town have been forced to tackle two new opponents after water problems plagued their Portman Road pitch and the Cobbold Stand.

Water flooded into the corridor underneath the Cobbold Stand - the lowest point at the stadium - after a failure at Anglian Water's pumping station in Alderman Road for the second time this year.

The club is seeking compensation from the water company to replace carpets and flooring ruined by the water.

And there are also fears that water problems have affected the Portman Road pitch, which has a reputation for being one of the best in the country.


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Tests on the grass and soil revealed that the ground had a very high salt content. This has prompted fears that salt water had got into the water table - or that there were problems at the West End Road sluice where the fresh water Gipping meets the tidal, and salty, River Orwell.

Football club chief executive Derek Bowden said there was no dispute that Anglian Water was responsible for the problems at the Cobbold Stand.

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He said: “It caused us some problems because the flooding was just two days before the Under-21 match with Moldova - but we got it sorted out.

“This was the second time we have had flooding because of problems with the pumping station - Anglian Water or their insurers have paid compensation but the concern is if this happens just before a match. It could cause serious disruption.

“There were no problems for years and then we've had these two incidents.”

Anglian Water pumps water from the Alderman Canal into huge tanks when the level rises too high - otherwise it can overflow and the corridor underneath the Cobbold Stand is the lowest point in the area.

Anglian Water spokesman Dan Baker said the company was aware of the problem.

He said: "Anglian Water is investigating problems around the football ground in Ipswich.

“The possibility of an extra valve is being considered, as it is thought the system may be backing up when high tides combine with stormy weather.

“It is anticipated that this investigation will be completed within a month, at which point a decision can be made whether a programme of investment is needed".

Mr Bowden said the investigations into the problems with the grass had revealed the high salt level - and the club was due to contact the Environment Agency which is responsible for the sluice gates at West End Road.

He said: “The pitch is recovering well now because the salt has been flushed out by the heavy rain and with more rain expected over the next few days it looks as if we can continue flushing it out without having to use extra water.”

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said they had not yet had any contact from the football club and were not aware of any problems with the sluice.

IPSWICH Town's Portman Road stadium and other buildings in the area are built on a flood plain which was a salt marsh until the middle of the nineteenth century.

The River Orwell is tidal and salt water, as far as the sluices where the fresh water River Gipping meets it at Yarmouth Road and West End Road.

Flood defences were first built in the area when the Wet Dock was opened in the 1840s - Portman Walk, recently renamed Sir Alf Ramsey Way, and Portman Road were the dry paths used by river officials to reach the Orwell.

The flood defences were strengthened during the 20th century, but there have been breaches - the most serious was in 1939 when a surge from the Gipping overflowed and caused the Constantine Road and Portman Road area to be seriously flooded.

Since then new flood defence work has prevented major problems in the area - although concerns about the possibility of future flooding does mean there are restrictions on development in the area.

Last year proposals to build a new police station for the town in the area were abandoned because of fears of flooding.

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