Lengthy road closures on Temeside as Seven Trent Water tackles sewage overflows

Temeside will be closed between Old Street and the former gasworks from 6 June to 26 June. This is to allow work by Seven Trent Water (STW) to investigate the subsoil prior to a major scheme to stop sewage overflows from the sewerage works on Temeside into the Teme river Site of Special Scientific Interest. These works will involve deep trial holes to investigate the subsoil conditions and any issues with services such as gas and telecoms. At a later date it is expected that Temeside will be closed again to create greater capacity for dealing with storm overflows.

These works are essential. We can’t keep flushing the stuff in our toilets into the river every time there is heavy rainfall, which is fairly normal around here. The disruption however will be significant. Temeside will be closed for three weeks. The 722 bus service will not be able to serve the stop at the bottom of Old Street. I have asked Minsterley Motors if they can reconsider this.

Water companies have got away with dumping sewage into waterways for far too long. In 2020, the equivalent of 64 years’ worth of raw sewage was dumped into rivers and streams by Severn Trent Water. Last summer, STW was fined £800,000 for discharging 3.8 million litres of raw sewage into the Row Brook from the Acton Burnell Treatment Works. Surfers Against Sewage said this week that 55% of those who had tried wild swimming had fallen ill afterwards and 52% of people are afraid of swimming outside because they are unsure whether the water is clean or polluted.

Water companies were recently heavily criticised by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee chaired by Philip Dunne. The government accepted some the committee’s recommendations. The House of Lords has recently launched an investigation into whether the regulator Ofwat is effective and the House of Commons will debate Ofwat’s remit on 9 June.

Many parts of our sewerage system are outdated. Modern sewerage systems have separate pipes for foul water (sewerage) and rain water but many older systems have combined pipes. This means that in heavy rainfall a mixture of sewerage and water can back up in the pipe. To prevent this overflowing into roads, homes and businesses, combined sewer systems are designed to overflow in heavy rainfall and discharge excess wastewater directly to nearby streams, rivers, or other water bodies. These overflows are called combined sewer overflows (CSOs).

The problem we face in Ludlow is that there is not sufficient capacity to for rainwater and sewerage on Temeside. This leads to discharges into the Teme which is a site of special interest (SSSI). Severn Trent now proposes to reduce discharges to one a year or fewer.

A major aim of the proposed work is to increase the diameter of a sewer pipe from 375mm to 750mm for around 72 metres on Temeside from near the Old Street junction to the Old Hall, doubling the existing capacity. The additional 82 cubic metres of additional capacity is roughly the capacity of 500 baths or more than 9,000 toilet flushes.

The main problem is not what goes down the plug hole or through the u-bend, it’s the excess rainwater running off our streets in an era where downpours are getting more intense.

Yellow section above is the length of pipe to be doubled in size.

There will be other works on private land near the sewerage pumping station on Temeside to create further capacity. Across the river, there will be work in Ludford parish to increase pipe capacity and the capacity at Ludlow Sewerage Treatment Works which will be able to receive an additional 180 cubic metres. That’s about the volume of one and half double deck buses.

The works that begin next week are to look at what lies below the road in Temeside. There will be more information on the next stages after this exploratory work. It will be disruptive but we must stop flushing sewerage into the Teme SSI.

Seven Trent Water presentation to councillors.