ARC-Boat to help the Environment Agency prepare for flooding


HR Wallingford has delivered ARC-Boat number 50 to the Environment Agency, helping them to issue quicker and more accurate flood warning information to local communities.

The ARC-Boat is a remote controlled boat that is used to deploy river, estuary and reservoir survey technology. The Environment Agency already has around 30 of these boats in operation, but this one is special as it is the 50th boat to be produced. This particular boat will be used by the Environment Agency in Shropshire to measure flows on the Severn and at the Severn/Vyrnwy confluence. The data collected will be used to improve flood warning models.

Rob Davies, a hydrometry and telemetry officer from the Environment Agency in Shropshire said:

“We use the ARC-Boat to measure the speed and depth of the water to enable us to calculate river flow. These measurements are really important as it gives us the data we need to give more accurate and quicker flood warnings to local communities. This ARC-Boat will be used to map and measure the whole of the Severn for the first time.

“The ARC-Boat allow us to easily and safely reach places where humans can’t, such as under bridges or during high-flows/flood. The data we collect helps us to monitor flows in the river which in turn helps our flood and water teams assess what action is required, for example, to determine where defences may be required.”

The ARC-Boats are made by HR Wallingford at their site on Howbery Business Park in Oxfordshire, and have been supplied to customers around the world, including Canada, New Zealand, France, Azerbaijan and Ireland. The Environment Agency was involved in the development of the boats, and following initial deployment, their staff found that the ARC-Boat delivered real improvements to the way they worked.

Nick Everard, a technical adviser in the Environment Agency’s hydrometry and telemetry team, said:

“The ARC-Boat has delivered real operational efficiencies for us. It’s extremely easy to set up and operate, so we can now survey more sites in less time. Before the ARC-Boat was available, it would take four or five people a full day to survey just one site. Now it’s possible for two people to survey up to six sites in a day from the safety of the river bank.”

Keith Powell, HR Wallingford Director, said:

“Delivery of ARC-Boat number 50 is an important milestone for us. Handing it over to the Environment Agency is particularly satisfying, as their staff played an important role in its development. They are using the ARC-Boats to map more of our rivers and in greater detail than was previously possible, and the data they collect will improve the accuracy of flood warnings. We are pleased to be able to support this important work.”

Image caption:The Environment Agency’s Nick Everard (left) and Rob Davies (centre) take delivery of ARC-Boat number 50 from HR Wallingford’s Keith Powell (right).