Friday, August 12, 2011

Sewer repairs underway near Ruscombe Brook - at last!!

Article sent to Randwick Runner:

Severn Trent has finally started works to repair and strengthen a stretch of sewer near Ruscombe Brook to reduce the risk of sewage flooding into the watercourse. Over the years the sewer which runs near to the brook has become infested with tree roots - cracking the pipework and allowing sewage to escape from the system. In 2005/6 there were so many very serious incidents of raw sewage getting into the brook and local fields that it was one of the key factors that led to the formation of the Ruscombe Brook Action Group (RBAG).

Over the years RBAG has tackled many issues relating to the brook from the flooding at Puckshole, getting a private sewer adopted to improving the biodiversity. We have worked with local schools, organised clean-ups, walked the brook to identify issues, worked with Masters degree students on projects re the brook, printed information leaflets, delivered fat traps, organised four large seminars at Ebley Mill which included Professor Hugh Barr on sewage and many other experts on improving watercourses. RBAG was also instrumental in setting up the Stroud Valleys Water Forum that meets bi-monthly with other action groups to look at wider catchment issues re flooding like the Slad Valley and Brigend that faces regular flooding of homes.

One of our key areas of work has been to engage with Severn Trent water and we have met with them fairly regularly over the years. At first they considered there was not a problem but when sewage incidents continued to occur they undertook lengthy investigations to identify the problems. One of the key ones is that fine roots seek out small cracks in the sewer and push their way into the network where they can grow into a major problem. For the last years Severn Trent has been cutting the roots to stop a reoccurence of the sewage incidents. This was clearly only a temporary solution so we have continued to push for a longer term solution.

RBAG were delighted when last year Severn Trent finally came up with a proposal for replacing some sewers. However since then they have had a change of staff and remodelled the network to show that relining would work. This is clearly the most efficient and least intrusive way of resolving the problem ie remotely cut back the roots in the pipework are remotely cut back then a new lining is added in the sewer - sealing the cracks and preventing roots from pushing their way into the network. The lining is specially strengthened to prevent further root intrusion for the next 100 years. RBAG have some concerns that this might be the cheeper option rather than the best option, but we will have to monitor the situation.

Mark Broomfield, programme engineer for Severn Trent, commented to the local press: "We know that Ruscombe Brook and the wildlife that depends on it is important to the community. Our aim is to ensure water quality in the brook remains high, while causing minimum disruption to residents. Even though there will be no road closures and customers will be able to continue to use the system as normal while work is going on, residents will notice more vehicles in the area. "If anyone has questions or concerns about the work that needs to be done they can contact Severn Trent on 0800 783 4444."

I was also quoted as a spokesperson for the Ruscombe Brook Action Group, saying: "We are delighted that sections of the sewer  are at last being relined. We welcome these moves by Severn Trent and their willingness to find solutions to the problems faced here. We look forward to further work in the future to continue to improve the outdated sewage system and at present we are also working on ways to further improve the biodiversity of the brook."

I was generous in my quote with Severn Trent as at times it has been quite a battle to get things done. Local landowner Julia Currie has been particularly good at negotiating with Severn Trent - she has had numerous additional discussions and meetings regarding the proposals. Work is expected to continue on site until mid October.

Huge thanks to all in RBAG who have made this possible. If anyone locally is interested in getting involved please do contact us.


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