A £10 million flood scheme which will protect almost 2,000 homes and businesses, hold more than 250 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water during a flood and includes more than 5 hectares of urban wetland habitat, has been officially completed today (Friday 2 February).The Environment Agency has marked the completion of its Salford Flood Improvement Scheme to coincide with World Wetlands Day.The Salford scheme delivers on a long-held vision to not only create a flood storage basin in Salford – to reduce the risk of flooding from the River Irwell – but also to provide a boost to local wildlife populations by including a high quality urban wetland habitat.Wetlands provide many benefits to society and help us to be more resilient to the effects of our changing climate. They provide multiple benefits such as slowing the flow of water, reducing flood risk, filtering water and capturing carbon. Their importance is increasing as a result of climate and land use change.Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: The entire 28 hectare flood basin sits within a meander loop of the River Irwell and will protect surrounding properties by holding up to 650 million litres of water – the equivalent to 260 Olympic-size swimming pools – during flood conditions.The new defence is an ‘offline’ storage basin that will work in tandem with the existing flood storage area at Littleton Road, completed in 2005. To create the storage capacity ground was excavated from the site and then reused to build a raised embankment around the periphery to form part of the defence system.The embankment’s south-west corner features an inlet to allow the controlled spill of water into the basin when river levels are high. Water is then stored in the basin during a flood and released by two outlet pipes back into the river once the water level has dropped.Making the most of every design aspect, the flood embankments have been planted with 10ha of wildflower habitat, to attract pollinating species such as lady birds, moths, butterflies and bees – whose population has dramatically declined across the county in recent years.The scheme not only brings flood risk and wildlife benefits, but also leisure and amenity benefits to the local community.With exactly 2.5km of new footpath skirting the periphery, runners and cyclists can enjoy the improved scenery and the links to existing footpaths that now provide a green route to and from the centre of Manchester.Within the basin area, a number of multi-use sports pitches have been given improved playing surfaces and better drainage systems, making them more resilient to flooding than the pitches that were in place before the scheme.The two kiosks on site were decorated by renowned Manchester graffiti artist, kELzO, who observed the wildlife on site to create the vibrant designs.As a longer term, economic benefit, the scheme will help Salford Council’s regeneration plans by enabling development in areas previously not viable. More than 90 hectares of development land has been protected as a direct result of the scheme which will allow increased opportunities to develop land within the river corridor.Throughout the 3-year construction term, the Environment Agency worked closely with Salford City Council, the local community steering group, the Broughton Trust, Salford Friendly Anglers, Kersal Vale Allotment & Horticultural Society and the University of Salford.Funding for the scheme came from a number of sources. £5m came from Government Gant-in-Aid, £4.1m came from a Government growth fund and the remaining £1.2m came from Salford City Council.Councillor Derek Antrobus, lead member for planning and sustainable development at Salford City Council said: How fitting that on World Wetlands Day a new scheme in Salford is opening that will reduce flood risk to thousands of homes and businesses and deliver a lasting legacy for wildlife in this area with five hectares of new urban wetland habitat. I am pleased the government has been able to support this scheme as part of the £39.5 million we are investing in Greater Manchester by 2021. The new flood basin realises a long-term ambition of the city council to reduce the risk for local communities. The council is delighted that it will also provide an excellent amenity and we have invested in the bridge from Kersal Dale so the site is integrated into the walking and cycling route along the Irwell Valley. In its primary function the multi-million pound scheme will provide increased protection to more than 1,900 homes and businesses across Lower Broughton and Lower Kersal. Lower Broughton was affected by the devastating floods that struck the city on Boxing Day in 2015.Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey said: The £10 million Salford flood scheme will reduce flood risk to almost 2,000 homes and businesses. In addition, we have created more than 5 hectares of urban wetland, bringing attractive landscapes for people and wildlife. People in the area can also enjoy a new footpath around the site and links to existing footpaths that now provide a green route to and from the centre of Manchester. This excellent partnership project is a fine example of the multiple benefits our work brings to the local community. The scheme’s completion will officially be marked with the unveiling of a plaque by the Environment Agency’s Chair, Emma Howard-Boyd and the city’s Mayor Paul Dennett.The government is investing £2.6 billion to better protect over 300,000 properties from flooding by 2021.The flood basin will be opened to the public once essential work to the path network has been completed. Dependent on dry weather conditions, this is scheduled for early Spring. The flood basin is already fully operational and will be used during a flooding event as required.Take a tour of the scheme from above by viewing our drone footage of Salford on YouTube.