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Major upgrade for 160-year-old sewer in Stratford

Friday 6th August 2021 09:25

Inside the Northern Outfall Sewer

Inside the Northern Outfall Sewer at nearby Wick Lane

A giant Victorian sewer in East London is being upgraded as Thames Water continues its investment in infrastructure across the capital.

The work on the Northern Outfall Sewer, where it passes under Stratford High Street along the line of the Greenway, starts on Tuesday, August 10.  

A temporary 7.5-ton weight restriction is being placed on the road to keep Thames Water's engineers safe. 

As it crosses High Street, the sewer comprises eight huge pipes, each around 1.6 metres high and 2.4 metres wide. Wastewater flows through at a rate of up to 20,000 litres per second. 

Richard Smith, Thames Water project manager, said: “The Northern Outfall Sewer is just one of the many thousands of miles of sewers built by the Victorians across London.   

“Their engineering is truly incredible, but climate change and population growth are putting huge pressures on this ageing network.   

“The Northern Outfall Sewer supplies Europe’s largest sewage works at Beckton, which treats the waste of more than four million Londoners, so we need to make sure the pipes continue providing this vital service for at least another 160 years.  

“The majority of motorists will still be able to drive along High Street, but we apologise in advance for any disruption and inconvenience our work may cause.” 

Fire engines and Transport for London (TfL) buses have been granted a special exemption and will be able to travel along High Street as normal. All vehicles under 7.5t, including ambulances, cars and vans can also continue using High Street.  

As drivers of vehicles over 7.5t approach High Street, road signs and electronic message boards will give them advanced warning of the weight limit, and to follow the clearly signed diversion.  

In addition, a temporary 7ft width restriction at the start of the eastbound Bow Flyover will prevent vehicles over 7.5t from entering High Street, funnelling them instead onto Bow Roundabout and the diversion along the A12.  

The 7.5t weight limit, and a new temporary 20mph speed limit along High Street, will be enforced by traffic cameras, and will be in place for up to 30 months for the duration of Thames Water’s crucial repair works. 

Residents, businesses and other key stakeholders have been informed and Thames Water is working closely with Newham Council and TfL to minimise the impact of the work and keep the area moving. 

Beckton Sewage Works forms a key part of London’s new super-sewer, the Thames Tideway Tunnel. When it opens in 2025, the 15-mile-long tunnel will intercept at least 94 per cent of the millions of tonnes of sewage that overflows into the Thames every year, cleaning up the river for Londoners who enjoy it, and the wildlife which relies on it. 

The location of the Northern Outfall Sewer as it passes under Stratford High Street

The location of the Northern Outfall Sewer as it passes under Stratford High Street

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