Cheltenham 2024 Groundwater Predictions

Leading environmental consultancy GeoSmart Information has predicted that the ground for the Cheltenham Festival will most likely be ‘soft’ due to exceptionally high groundwater forecasting.

The Midlands-based flood risk, drainage, groundwater and contaminated land specialist used its market leading FloodSmart Analytics tool to map out the festival site and found that due to a mix of groundwater and environmental issues, the area could well be sodden.

Dr Paul Ellis, Managing Director of GeoSmart Information, explains: “Cheltenham Racecourse is located on the Charmouth Mudstone bedrock, which includes deposits of gravel and alluvium. Due to the wet and stormy couple of months, gravel on the Cheltenham site will already contain groundwater, and this will compound the already gravelly soil, potentially locking in groundwater on site. In addition, the Cotswold Limestone, which is further to the east, is a major aquifer that will further exacerbate the flow of surface water as it courses westwards past Cheltenham. This will keep river levels high, which will have a knock-on effect on moisture and groundwater levels in the surrounding catchment.

Sand and gravel around Prestbury Park, Cheltenham 
Bedrock around Cheltenham Festival. Contains British Geological Survey materials © UKRI 2024

“As a result, a borehole close to the festival site shows groundwater levels in the region are exceptionally high and, despite a predicted drop in this over the next few weeks, levels are likely to remain high over the Cheltenham Festival period. What’s more, a small number of potential rainfall predictions show the possibility of very high rainfall during Cheltenham Festival week.”

Potential risks for Cheltenham Festival 

GeoSmart provides research, modelling and reporting to the insurance, financial, public and environmental sectors. Its groundbreaking FloodSmart Analytics tool maps the impact and costs associated with groundwater and as a result, is challenging the way we look at flooding risks across the UK.