Sun, 19 Apr 2020
THAMES Water has installed a special filter in a bid to end Lambourn’s annual sewage misery.
The company acted following a slew of bad publicity in February when it was revealed that villagers had been suffering raw effluent pouring down Newbury Street and into the River Lambourn almost annually for the last 17 years.
As reported by the Newbury Weekly News, a customer services manager for the utility company in 2003 wrote to residents apologising for the sewage overflow in the village street and promising to “seek a resolution to this situation”.
Earlier this year, as the problem erupted again, with a geyser of sewage spewing from a manhole in Newbury Street, local vicar the Rev Julie Mintern told the NWN: “I’m really concerned my parishioners are having to walk and drive through this.
“It’s a health hazard.”
Newbury MP Laura Farris said at the time: “There needs to be a fundamental rethink by Thames Water.”
The company announced last week it had installed the filter “to help ease problems caused by ongoing groundwater flooding”.
Thames Water said in a statement: “Prolonged heavy rain in late 2019 and early 2020 means groundwater levels in the Lambourn Valley have been exceptionally high in recent months and continue to be higher than normal, despite there not having been much rain in recent weeks.
“This has led to sewers in the village filling up and overflowing, which has been a particular problem in Newbury Street, where tankers have been pumping away the excess water.”
The ‘temporary’ filter installation is now functioning and Thames Water said it means all the excess water, some of which was running down the road, is now being captured and filtered to remove any solids, and its general quality improved, before it is released into the environment.
Thames Water area manager Karen Nelson said: “We appreciate the last few months have been tough for the people of Lambourn and we’re glad that we’ve been able to put the filter in place to ease some of the problems the groundwater has been causing.
“Although the filter isn’t all that attractive to look at, it’s far quieter than the tankers and stays in one place, reducing large vehicle movements through the village.
“We still have some tankers in the area though to help manage water levels in our sewer network and stop flooding.
“Despite the recent dry spell groundwater levels are still high, so we’ll keep the filter in place for as long as it’s needed.”
Meanwhile, Thames Water warned that the filter may not work efficiently if people “continue to dispose of non-flushable items like wipes down their toilets, which have already clogged up the filter more than once”.
Ms Nelson added: “We’re aware that nationally many people have been using alternatives to loo roll due to panic buyers not leaving enough for everyone on shop shelves, but it’s vital that nothing other than the ‘three Ps’ – pee, poo and toilet paper – are flushed away.
“If we all take care and work together the filter will do its job and Lambourn and the environment will be better protected.”
She concluded by saying that those working in the water and sewerage industry have been identified by the Government as key workers and customers can expect to see the company’s engineers working in their communities to maintain essential water and wastewater services during the pandemic and prevent problems in the future.