The history of the King’s Sedgewick Drain on the Somerset levels February 2014

I have borrowed the numbered diagrams from a BBC story of 29th January 2014

Originally this would be river flood level Near the sea the water level will vary with the tide. Hopefully low tide is below the river bed.

1795 Robert Anstice drained the marsh.

After dredging the banks were higher. The river also becomes narrower as riparian owners aquire more land

The only way to prevent this is yearly maintenance. Now the dredging has not been kept up since the dyke was built it may not be possilble to save the levels. Unfortunately the same thing seems to have happened to the River Thames.

Where the dyke meets the sea at Dunball we seem to have tried very hard to block the last half mile. It should be 40m wide instead of 13m and the concrete barrage is nowhere near the size of the dyke in flood.

Spreading the silt, and the flood banks, on the farmland, as per the River Nile, would raise and fertilize the fields but it must be done from the lowest end of the river and clear where necessary proceeding upstream.

According to Wikipedia, in Roman times the course of the River Parrett near Puriton was quite different from that of today. It followed part of the route of the present day King's Sedgemoor Drain, forming almost a great loop along the southern flank of the Polden Hills.

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