Tue, 08 Dec 2020
AS Lambourn braces for its annual sewage tsunami, there finally appears to be hope on the horizon after 17 years of promises.
Each February, as groundwater rises, the village suffers from raw sewage pouring through the streets and even into people’s homes via toilets.
The effluent also erupts like a geyser through a manhole outside the fire station in Newbury Street, where children walk to school.
It is not a new problem – in 2003 a Thames Water customer services manager wrote to residents promising to “seek a resolution to this situation”.
One resident said earlier this year: “It’s like we’re living in a third world country.”
Another, Simon Godfrey, said: “Thames Water makes £100m a year, but apparently they can’t pay to fix this.”
The sewage also pours into the River Lambourn – an internationally rare chalk stream and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that supposedly enjoys the highest level of protection.
Thames Water traditionally uses tankers to pump excess wastewater from the system.
In April, Newbury MP Laura Farris said: “There needs to be a fundamental rethink by Thames Water.”
This week she reported progress and said in a statement: “All this year I have been working with Thames Water, [the water services regulation authority] OFWAT and the Environment Agency as well as some amazing people in the village itself to try and prevent a repeat of last year’s appalling flooding.
“I know this situation has rumbled on for years without decent resolution so I wanted to update you on where we are.
“I have been absolutely clear with Thames Water that their failings have been intolerable for residents.
“They have now allocated a dedicated specialist who has done a complete inspection of the pipes, sewers and drains and created a plan of work which we are monitoring.”
She added: “Thames Water have now undertaken extensive remedial work on the section by the fire station and in Upper Lambourn.
“I came down on Saturday to look at the work with Howard Woolaston (Con, Lambourn).
“There is work to do in Drain Lane and this will be completed in 2021.
“But essentially they say two out of three sections of work have been completed overall and we are sincerely hoping that you will see a marked improvement this year in the event of heavy rain.
“And I will ensure that all the work is completed by the middle of 2021.”