Working together for a resilient Birmingham.

National Flood Exercise Tests Response Capabilities

Exercise Watermark was a national flood exercise which took place over an eight day period from 4th to 11th March 2011.  It was one of the biggest exercises to take place nationally, planned by the Environment Agency and delivered on behalf of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG)

The exercise tested key responders across England and Wales in their ability to respond to surface water, river, tidal and reservoir failure flooding.  Climate change will increase the likelihood of flooding in the future and therefore we all need to be better prepared to respond in times of severe weather.

The exercise tested the country’s preparedness while also testing a number of other key recommendations from the Pitt Review and other recent flood reviews.   There was a central core exercise taking place nationally involving government departments interacting with central government and COBR. This was supported by regional exercises and locally based community activities.  Professional agencies from London, West Yorkshire, Devon & Cornwall, Thames Valley, Surrey, West Mercia, Dyfed-Powys, Derbyshire, Humber, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent all took part in the event.  In addition, there was opportunity for many more local community groups and voluntary agencies from all over England and Wales to take part.

Although the West Midlands Conurbation was not chosen as a location to take part in the formal exercise, Birmingham Resilience Team took the opportunity to get involved.  The Rea Valley Residents Environment and Flood Action Group decided they would benefit from taking part in a local event and organised their own exercise with assistance from the Environment Agency and the Council. The Birmingham Resilience Team was also invited to attend the Derbyshire multi‑agency exercise held at Derbyshire County Council which focused on the response to a reservoir failure.  This provided a valuable opportunity to learn from other areas and identify best practice to take back to Birmingham.

A national post exercise report will be produced by the Environment Agency and made available to the public.  For more information on Exercise Watermark go to:

For more information on flooding please go to our flood pages at:

Comment on this Article