Call to scrap London's £4bn super sewer to reduce flooding
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Environment and also in Local Government
Thames Water launches campaign to flush out 'sewer abuse'
Flood prevention measures should be prioritised ahead of London’s £4.2 billion super sewer, which will do "absolutely nothing to stop low lying areas being deluged", a council leader has argued.
Cllr Nicholas Botterill, leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, claims that if London is to avoid the recent devastation experienced in Chertsey and Somerset, the Environment Agency needs to stop supporting "vanity projects" like the super sewer and instead redirect the money to practical flood defence measures such as sustainable drainage solutions (SuDS).
“The terrible scenes we have seen over recent days show that we need to stop Thames Water’s great drain robbery and instead focus our resources on measures that improve flood defences and drainage,” said Cllr Botterill. “We could stop sewage going into people’s homes and high streets as well as into the Thames if we scrap the super sewer and redirect resources into SuDS.”
The cllr has argued that cities such as Philadelphia, Portland and Copenhagen favour SuDS where storm water is slowed by various methods so existing systems can cope. Fresh rainwater is kept separate from the sewage and the water can be harvested, so that hosepipe bans can also be avoided, rather than just shedding it as polluted flood excess.
Cllr Botterill added: “Unfortunately bodies such as Thames Water and the Environment Agency appear trapped in the past. Instead of spending £4.2bn on a concrete tunnel that will devastate riverside communities and do absolutely nothing to alleviate flooding we should instead, follow the lead of other cities. We could kill two birds with one stone if we captured more rainwater through SuDS and Green Infrastructure as we would make the River Thames cleaner and increase our resilience to flooding at the same time.”
Richard Ashley, professor of urban water at Sheffield University and an expert in water management, agreed with cllr Botterill. He said: “The super sewer is a prime example of the failure of sustainable water management in the UK. Instead of capturing the fresh rainwater and using it productively we are allowing it into the old Victorian sewers where it mixes with sewage.
"Thames Water is then proposing to spend billions of pounds to build a massive concrete pipe to pump the combined rainwater and sewage out to east London - only to be separated out again.”