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The BBC's Yvette Austin in Chichester, West Sussex
"An ingenious scheme involving some 13 miles of pipe"
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Sunday, 12 November, 2000, 05:32 GMT
Floods threat continues
Road sign nearly engulfed by floodwater
Water levels in the north of England are now falling
Large areas in the south of England remain under threat from floods after a night of heavy rain.

Brighton town centre is in danger after a river that lay dormant for 150 years sprang to life.

The long-term forecast for the southern part of the country looked bleak, with the Environment Agency warning flooding problems could continue into April.

"Springs which have been dormant for more than 100 years are coming back to life," said Environment Agency spokesman Ray Kemp.

"Unless we have an exceptionally dry winter, every time there is rain of any considerable quantity, people can expect flooding, until growing vegetation in the spring soaks the water up.

"That could mean repeat flooding every time we even get just the average winter rainfall because we now know we cannot get rid of that water from the North and South Downs."

Tony Blair in flooded home
Tony Blair has visited a number of badly affected regions
Up to one-and-a-half inches (40mm) of rain had been predicted overnight for parts of Kent and Sussex, with high tides adding to the problems.

Particular areas of concern included Chichester and Worthing in West Sussex, and the Denton area of Newhaven, and Brighton, in East Sussex.

In Brighton, the Wellsbourne Stream, which used to run through the centre of Brighton in Victorian times, was resurrected after weeks of heavy rain that has saturated land to the north of the town.

Patcham, in the north of Brighton, has been flooded for a week due to the exceptionally high levels of spring water.

Contamination risk

The Environment Agency warned on Saturday night that localised flooding could hit the town if storm tunnels, already near to capacity, overflowed.

A spokesman said: "If the sewers start to pop open the flooding would be contaminated.

"Although all flooding is contaminated with sewage a lot of the time in rural areas it is less considerable.

"The combined sewerage system is almost full to capacity."

More rain is expected to fall in the north of England overnight on Sunday, which is when any further problems in the region are predicted to occur.

However, despite some parts being among the worst affected by the floods in the country, water levels in the north are falling.

There is still some concern about high seasonal tides in the north - the highest of which will be on Monday night, and the Environment Agency says it will be monitoring the weakened flood defences throughout the region.

Floodline: 0845 988 1188

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09 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Floods threaten star homes
08 Nov 00 | UK
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