Thames Water teams are on high alert across London and the Thames Valley in preparation for the heavy rain expected to hit the area tomorrow.
Ahead of the predicted storms, the company has increased the number of drainage specialists available by around 30% and has extra tanker vehicles on standby for the rest of this week. Some planned work has been scaled back and rescheduled to free up staff to respond to weather related incidents and pro-actively visit areas most at risk. Staffing levels at customer call centres and sewage treatment sites have also been ramped up, while stocks of sandbags and flood barriers have been placed at depots in Swindon, Slough and across London to protect pumping stations and sewers. An army of volunteers from across the company is also primed and ready to put on their wet weather gear to go out and support people in any badly affected areas.
Forecasts show a slow moving weather system is likely to bring the most rainfall to the area since last September posing a risk of surface flooding which can also lead to sewers being overwhelmed. However by closely monitoring the weather, studying historical data and investing millions in hi-tech equipment, Thames Water says it’s as ready as it can be to protect its customers and the environment.
The company’s head of waste control, Anthony Crawford, said: “In the run up to last Winter, we spent months planning how we can best respond in the event of wet weather, but so far we’ve not had to put those plans in place. Just because it’s not winter now though, it doesn’t mean we’re not ready.
“We’re being as proactive as possible to try and prevent problems with our sewers happening in the first place but, if they do reach capacity and overflow following extreme rainfall, we have a dedicated and committed team ready to help as quickly and effectively as possible.”
Since the wettest winter on record in 2013/14 Thames Water has invested more than £5 million on equipment to improve its wet weather response. This includes six-hour weather forecasting and modelling equipment showing how an area could be affected by certain levels of rain, alarms on critical assets like pumping stations – which keep sewage flowing through the company’s 68,000 mile network of sewers, and hi-tech weather and ground water monitoring equipment. The company has also upgraded a number of its pumping stations and sewage works to make them more resilient during heavy rain.
Customers can keep up to date and report problems via Thames Water’s website www.thameswater.co.uk as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@thameswater).