A TASK force is urging Dorset and New Forest residents to be ready for the risk of groundwater flooding over the coming weeks.

The new alert came while several flood warnings remained in place across Dorset and the New Forest.

Areas subject to warnings include the Lower Avon at The Bridges and Stubbings Meadow in Ringwood, Middle Avon at Fordingbridge, the Lower Avon from Ringwood to Christchurch and the Middle Avon from Salisbury to Ringwood.

The areas most at risk from groundwater flooding include Sixpenny Handley, Cranborne Chase and parts of North Dorset. The council said the chalk geology of the areas combined with heavy rainfall creates a strong likelihood of groundwater flooding.

Streams and rivers are at full capacity and high volumes of surface water run-off from agricultural land means that the groundwater has nowhere to go.

Simon Parker, Dorset County Council’s emergency planning officer, said: “There is a possibility that groundwater flooding will be with us for a number of weeks and the wet weather is set to continue.

“Agencies across the county will continue working together to ensure that Dorset residents get help and assistance when it’s needed.”

Meanwhile, Dorset County Council reported many cracks and potholes appearing in its road surfaces following the rainfall.

It said more than 1,000 such problems had been reported since January 1.

Andrew Martin, the county’s head of highways operations, said: “The recent extreme weather has presented us with exceptional demand on our services but we have 35 teams currently deployed to address the numerous incidents and defects that have appeared in recent weeks.

“These include pothole repair, ditch clearing, high pressure drain clearance and gully emptying. We aim to repair potholes that present an immediate hazard to motorists within 32 hours and all other defects within 28 days.”