A £1.3 million project to help protect the River Avon running through Bath by dramatically reducing the automatic release of untreated wastewater has been completed on schedule.
Wessex Water teams have wrapped up the five-month project to install a new storage tank, which will help ease the pressure on the sewer system during rainstorms, at Bath RFC’s Lambridge rugby ground.
Construction crews built the tank, which is capable of holding more than 170,000 litres of excess water, below ground within the car park of the venue just off London Road in the east of the city, removing more than 1800 tonnes of soil during the project.
The project was one of 13 schemes Wessex Water are prioritising between now and 2025 as the company invests £3 million a month to tackle the overflows in the region that have previously discharged most frequently.
The new tank – which expected to help cut discharges by up to three-quarters – will host increased flows from combined sewers, which carry both wastewater from homes and businesses and rain run-off from buildings and surfaces, during periods of heavy downpours.
Once the rain has subsided the stored water is then gradually returned to the sewer system for its journey onwards to a nearby water recycling centre, where it is treated before being safely returned to the environment.
Currently, if there is too much rainfall in the system, the overflow automatically discharges into watercourses, such as the River Avon, to protect homes and businesses from the risk of flooding.
Wessex Water’s programme manager Jonathan Barker said:
“This project is an important step towards progressively eliminating the automatic operation of storm overflows in the Bath area and contributes towards our target of reducing the number of hours of their operation across our region by around 25 per cent by 2025.
“This is one element of such work we’re carrying out to protect the environment in and around the River Avon, with similar schemes already under way upstream in Bradford on Avon and downstream in Hanham in the east of Bristol, while a further storm storage scheme within Bath is also due to be completed next year.’’
Wessex Water is also tackling storm overflows in other ways before 2025, including upgrading sewage treatment methods to increase capacity at 42 of its water recycling centres, including introducing more nature-based and low-carbon treatment methods such as reedbeds and wetlands.
Beefed-up investigation and monitoring of overflows in the region, as well as an extensive programme of sewer relining to help keep wastewater within the system and prevent infiltration of groundwater that can lead to flooding, is also continuing.
The company has also unveiled proposals to invest a record £400 million towards the goal of reducing overflow operation in its next five-year investment period between 2025 and 2030, subject to approval by industry regulators.