Homes in West London could soon be spared the problem of basements flooding with sewage after Thames Water committed itself to spending up to £25million over the next five years on measures to alleviate the issue.
The company says homes served by the Counter’s Creek sewer, which include properties in fashionable Chelsea, are suffering “a truly horrible experience” caused by the inability of Counter’s Creek, one of London’s historic “Lost Rivers” and the area’s main sewer, to cope with the demands of present-day London.
Over the next five years Thames plans to fit more than 600 pumping systems to protect the worst-affected properties. The company says this work should provide a “short-term solution” while research and design continues on the construction of a new larger sewer network.
Bob Collington, director of operational management for Thames Water, said: “We have yet to get the approval of our economic regulator Ofwat for building a larger Counter’s Creek sewer system, but the £25million of funding we’ve been allowed by Ofwat for the next five years will enable us to provide a short-term fix for the worst-affected properties while we design the long-term solution.”
In an attempt to design out further potential for flooding the company is talking to Kensington and Chelsea council with the aim of getting involved in discussions with developers at an early stage in their projects.
One contributing factor to flooding is the practice of concreting over greenspace which reduced natural drainage.
Welcoming the announced funding, Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said it was important to “pay close attention to the effect future development may have in the area and work with developers through the planning process, to minimise the impact on the local drainage system.”
Councillor Paget-Brown said his authority would “work closely with other boroughs and the Greater London Authority to reduce this risk in the future.”
Thames says it hopes construction of the new Counter’s Creek sewer will start in 2014 subject to Ofwat approval.