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Thames Water tackles flooding in Lambourn Valley

Tuesday 25th May 2021 13:30

A multi-thousand-pound investment scheme by Thames Water is helping to reduce the risk of sewer flooding across the Lambourn Valley. 

Since last summer, the company has invested tens of thousands of pounds in villages including Lambourn, Upper Lambourn, Eastbury, East Garston and Great Shefford, cleaning and relining sewers and sealing manholes to stop groundwater and river water flooding the pipe network.  

While in previous winters, Thames Water had used fleets of tankers to pump excess water out of Lambourn’s sewers to stop them overflowing into streets and homes, the work carried out over the summer and autumn was so effective not a single tanker was needed in the village this winter.  

The relining and sealing work has been deemed so successful by the Thames team, along with residents and councillors, that the approach is being replicated in other villages, including East Garston, where around £30,000 is currently being spent relining 50 metres of sewers in Front Street and Station Road. 

Regional waste networks manager, Karen Nelson, said: “We promised the people of the Lambourn Valley we’d do our bit to help alleviate their flooding problems and I’m proud our hard work and investment in the area is paying off. 

“Although we’re not responsible for all aspects of flood management, we’re trying to resolve the things within our control and are working with other agencies to address others. We hope residents feel reassured by the work we’ve done. There’s still more to do but we’re making great progress.” 

During sewer relining a plastic liner, which looks like a long sock or balloon, is slid inside the existing sewer pipes and then heated and inflated so it sticks to the inside of the pipe and seals any cracks. This stops groundwater getting in and flooding the network. 

Cllr Howard Woollaston of Lambourn Valley District Council and chair of the valley’s flood forum said: “Thames Water and the Environment Agency have both stepped up to the mark and appear to have resolved the issues. They are now following up this work in East Garston and subsequently Great Shefford. Whilst arguably we should never have been in this position in the first place, I do welcome the efforts that have been, and continue to be made to get a long-term solution.”  

Thames Water’s experts say residents can also do their bit to keep sewers flowing by not putting wipes down the toilet or fat down the sink. 

Karen added: “Sadly during our work in the Lambourn Valley we’ve come across huge clumps of wipes in the sewers, which can block the pipes and lead to sewage backing up into properties and the environment. It’s a horrible thing to experience but totally avoidable. 

“Please only flush the three P’s, pee, poo and (toilet) paper and bin everything else, including wet wipes, even if it says they’re flushable on the packet. They’re made of plastic so don’t disintegrate like toilet paper does.” 

Thames Water’s engineers have also worked with the Environment Agency, West Berkshire Council and private landowners to get surface water ditches cleared across the valley and adds anyone with a ditch on their property should check it’s clear of rubbish or vegetation so rainwater can easily drain away and not flood roads and pavements or the sewer network.