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Multi-thousand pound Lambourn Valley sewer scheme reduces flooding

A multi-thousand pound project by Thames Water appears to have reduced sewer flooding across the Lambourn Valley.

This newspaper had been regularly reporting on rivers of raw sewage pouring down village streets each spring.

Then last summer Thames Water invested tens of thousands of pounds in villages including Lambourn, Upper Lambourn, Eastbury, East Garston and Great Shefford, cleaning and relining sewers and sealing manholes to stop groundwater and river water flooding the pipe network.

A drain overflows in Lambourn in 2020.
A drain overflows in Lambourn in 2020.

While in previous years the utility giant had used fleets of tankers to pump excess water out of Lambourn’s sewers to stop them overflowing into streets and homes, the work carried out over the summer and autumn was apparently so effective not a single tanker has been needed in the village since.

The relining and sealing work has been deemed so successful that the approach is being replicated in other villages, including East Garston, where around £30,000 is currently being spent relining 50m metres of sewers in Front Street and Station Road.

Regional waste networks manager, Karen Nelson, said: “We promised the people of the Lambourn Valley we’d do our bit to help alleviate their flooding problems and I’m proud our hard work and investment in the area is paying off.

“Although we’re not responsible for all aspects of flood management, we’re trying to resolve the things within our control and are working with other agencies to address others. We hope residents feel reassured by the work we’ve done. There’s still more to do but we’re making great progress.”

During sewer relining a plastic liner, which looks like a long sock or balloon, is slid inside the existing sewer pipes and then heated and inflated so it sticks to the inside of the pipe and seals any cracks. This stops groundwater getting in and flooding the network.

Chairman of the valley's flood forum, district councillor Howard Woollaston (Con, Lambourn), said: “Thames Water and the Environment Agency have both stepped up to the mark and appear to have resolved the issues.

"They are now following up this work in East Garston and subsequently Great Shefford. Whilst arguably we should never have been in this position in the first place, I do welcome the efforts that have been, and continue to be made to get a long-term solution.”

Thames Water has asked residents to help keep sewers flowing by not putting wipes down the toilet or fat down the sink.

Thames Water engineers have also worked with the Environment Agency, West Berkshire Council and private landowners to get surface water ditches cleared across the valley.

The company has asked anyone with a ditch on their property to ensure it is clear of rubbish or vegetation so rainwater can easily drain away and not flood roads and pavements or the sewer network.

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