The Foss Barrier: Road to Recovery

In December 2015, the most severe floods in a generation hit the city of York. As water levels rose to the highest recorded on the River Foss, they entered the main control building at the Foss Barrier, which forms an important part of the city’s flood defences, rendering the facility inoperable.

The Foss Barrier and pumping station were built in the 1980s in response to severe flooding five years previous.  In flood conditions, a mechanical gate can be closed to stop rising waters in the River Ouse from backing up into the River Foss, preventing flooding to a large part of the city. When the barrier is down, the facility relies on eight pumps to transfer flow (up to 30m3/s prior to the refurbishment works) from the River Foss around the barrier into the River Ouse.

After significant involvement in the initial emergency flood response, JBA Bentley were engaged to deliver the high-profile upgrade to the site ever, with the key objective being to enhance the resilience and capacity of the site, whilst critically ensuring the pump station remains operational throughout.

Working in challenging conditions on a constrained site – with extremely tight timescales – clever civil engineering and an innovative approach to temporary works has been pivotal to the success of the scheme. Although some elements of work are still outstanding, the pumping station is now fully operational from the new building and provides enhanced flood protection and peace of mind to the residents of York.