Rivers in Norfolk and Suffolk are unlikely to return to normal levels for up to three weeks following the flooding which has hit Broads towns and villages, council leaders have warned.

Water levels throughout the Broads are currently extremely high, as a result of recent periods of heavy rainfall and spring tides.

It has led to flooding in villages such as Potter Heigham, Horning, Hoveton, Wroxham, Surlingham and Geldeston.

Beccles & Bungay Journal: Flooding at Potter HeighamFlooding at Potter Heigham (Image: Mike Page)

Norfolk County Council, as the lead local flood authority, investigates flooding and Graham Plant, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said it could be some time before river levels get back to normal.

He said: "I understand it could take another two to three weeks for rivers to recover to normal levels - unless additional rainfall combines with tidal patterns to prolong things further."

There have been claims the £121m Third River Crossing at Great Yarmouth - known as the Herring Bridge - has contributed to the flooding.

Its abutments mean the width of the river Yare has been reduced by more than a third - from 89 metres to 55 metres, close to where it flows into the North Sea.

That is the only outlet for the entire Broads network and people in flood-hit villages claim the narrower channel means it is taking longer for water levels further upstream to fall.

However, the county council said there had been extensive flood modelling and risk assessments carried out as part of the process which led to the bridge getting the government green light.

Beccles & Bungay Journal: Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transportGraham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport (Image: Newsquest)

And Mr Plant said: "There are two main reasons why some communities in the Broads are currently seeing higher water levels for far longer than usual after recent flooding incidents.

"These are the extensive rainfall from a series of storms which led to wide areas in the Broads catchment being fully saturated and a sequence of high tides which has had a tide locking effect on the main rivers, meaning that the catchment could not drain effectively.

"These two things mean that the river levels are remaining higher for far longer than is usual and this combination means that both pumped water and water that drains from parts of the wider system cannot be carried away by the rivers."