Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley (SAGLUV) – 5 July 2024 update

For more information on the Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley (SAGLUV), please see the section at the foot of this post (red heading). Updates will be provided below, the most recent first, as soon as possible after the group supplied them.

SAGLUV Update: 5 July 2024

Groundwater levels are dropping and our immediate sewage problems have subsided. As a result, the tankers are no longer needed at Eastbury and Great Shefford: while at East Garston, the ATAC Filter Unit has been removed and some pump repairs completed at the Pumping Station.

But this doesn’t mean that SAGLUV can relax! Far from it. We are chasing up TW for confirmation that the promised work will be completed during the coming months. Hopefully we will have further detailed news about this in the coming weeks, and of course, we will keep you informed of progress on this crucial project.

SAGLUV Update: 29 May 2024

Rumour has it that summer is just around the corner. What can we expect? Heat wave? Drought? Who knows, but no sign of it yet..

So, before the BBQs and rosé grab your attention, we thought a quick update on the less pleasant issue of sewage wouldn’t go amiss.

Groundwater levels are steadily dropping now, and we are at the stage when we can start thinking about saying goodbye to the ATAC unit and tankers (at least until next winter) We are not there yet, and a prolonged period of rain will delay things further. At least we’re heading in the right direction.

But in case anyone thinks that SAGLUV and Thames Water will be relaxing and taking a breather, that is definitely not the case. In fact, this is a busy time, when TW has only a few weeks to find further infiltration leaks as the groundwater is still coming in, but whilst the levels in sewers are low enough to spot them. This is done by manual inspection of manholes, and by clever cameras that can travel along the sewer pipes. And we in SAGLUV will be pressing hard to ensure the promised relining and repair work is actually done.

Here is a quick roundup of what’s been happening in our villages:

Eastbury

The weeks since our last report have been quite eventful. The tanker operation continued, as although the groundwater levels continued to drop, the sewage problems got worse. Manholes were overflowing where they hadn’t previously and loos were backing up too.

The problem was the ranunculus plants in the river that had grown very quickly and had caused the river to come out of its banks, resulting in flooded roads and additional ingress of water into the sewer network. The Village Wardens, James and Andrew, persuaded the EA to do a cut and within a day the river was down and the sewers were back under control. James and Andrew have requested that EA carry out a further cut as the ranunculus is still growing fast, and they don’t want to let it get out of hand again.

The tanker operation was stood down and things were getting back to normal: then a series of localised manhole overflows occurred. These were traced back to problems with the FLIP units that pump some sections of the sewer into the pumping station. A partial fix has been implemented with further pipework repairs planned when levels drop sufficiently.

In the last few days you may have seen roadworks and a large puddle at Newtown as you approach Eastbury from the east, at the same location that suffered so badly from sewage overflows previously. However, it appears that this time it is a water leak – as if we didn’t have enough water around already…

But after a few weeks of turmoil, currently, the sewage situation in Eastbury seems to be under control.

East Garston

For all intents and purposes, the sewage situation in EG is back to normal. No problems have been reported recently with manholes or loos. The ATAC unit is still running, but this may well be turned off and removed in the near future. TW has found a problem with a pump in the Pumping Station which will have to be sorted out before it can finally confirm that the ATAC unit can be removed.

A team of six engineers came out last week to inspect all manholes and to look for signs of infiltration. Sue and I had a useful hour and a half’s meeting with them afterwards to review what they had found and to discuss future work plans. They had found some leaks which they will be following up and may bring the camera unit out to investigate further possible ingress points. They also found a number of cases where rainwater drainage was entering their system, which can have an impact at times of high groundwater flooding, and they will be following this up as well in the coming weeks.

Great Shefford

The tanker operation is still underway: however, a few weeks ago it was very intermittent and residents were suffering the usual problems with loos and showers when tankers were absent. This unsatisfactory situation was taken up with TW, and since then the tankers have been present on a more regular basis. This seems to have resolved the issue, and hopefully, with the water table dropping, it won’t be too long before the tanker operation can be stopped.

We will be seeking a formal progress review meeting with TW in the coming weeks when they should have a clearer picture of when the repair and relining work can be started. We’ll keep you updated as and when we find out more.

SAGLUV Update: 6 April 2024

The Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley (SAGLUV) held its first full meeting on Friday 5 April with the villages of Upper Lambourn, Lambourn, Eastbury, East Garston and Great Shefford all represented.

The main item on the agenda was an analysis of the current situation in each village. In order to progress the dialogue we have started with Thames Water. At the meeting we had with TW at the end of last month – and in its subsequent report– TW assured us of the further efforts they were making to mitigate the immediate problems: however, they were not very specific as they were still working on possible solutions.

Following that meeting, despite the fact that groundwater levels are still very high we have seen some definite improvements:

  • In Great Shefford, provided tankers are on site 24/7 and most of the difficulties of unusable loos and showers are mitigated. Unfortunately, we have seen variable attendance of tankers, and with rising groundwater levels, this is still a concern.
  • In East Garston, the sewers have been jet-cleaned and, at present, are clear, with the filter unit coping with the excess flows.
  • In Eastbury, the tanker operation was keeping things under control: until 5 April when manholes were overflowing again.
  • In Lambourn, we were advised that TW has jet-cleaned one kilometre of downstream sewer pipes. The good news is that the sewage fountain by the Fire Station has stopped. A tanker operation was started at Goose Green which has eased the problems in that area and has also slowed down the overflowing manhole in Oxford Street. Repairs to a broken sewage pipe in Baydon Road have been escalated and are currently in progress.
  • Upper Lambourn is, however, still suffering badly, which proves that groundwater flooding is still a major threat for the whole area. We now have to get TW’s focus onto Upper Lambourn as well.

Some of the above areas clearly need further investigation over the coming days to complete the picture. We are aware that the sewers are still full to capacity so these improvements are precarious, with any blockage, or heavy rain, rapidly changing the situation.

Our response to TW in the coming days will reflect these concerns, whilst acknowledging the improvements we have witnessed.

Another important issue we discussed, is how we communicate with residents to keep everyone up do date. As SAGLUV is a joint initiative by the three Parish Councils, all updates will be posted on each PC website, with “pointers” and links going onto other local communications channels.

Anyone wishing to contact SAGLUV can use the email address for the relevant PC, putting SAGLUV as the subject, or speak directly to any of the members.

SAGLUV (Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley)

The following statement from Martyn Wright of the East Gaston Flood and Pollution Forum describes the ambitions and scope of this group:

“It’s well known that there are significant problems with sewage throughout the Lambourn Valley. The villages of Great Shefford, East Garston, Eastbury, Lambourn and Upper Lambourn, (for ease of description, the Lambourn Upper Valley) all suffer from sewer flooding by groundwater infiltration and all are in the catchment of the East Shefford Sewage Treatment Works. Thames Water treats this catchment as a discreet area with its own Groundwater Management Plan.

“Many people, for many years, have been trying to tackle Thames Water in an attempt to bring about some improvement. The Lambourn Valley Flood Forum has been making strong representation:however, as the name suggests, the LVFF’s main focus has been on flooding issues. It is now felt that a more concentrated and co-ordinated effort is needed to resolve sewage problems in our specific part of the Valley that ties in with TW’s East Shefford STW Management Plan.

“The Chairs of the Parish Councils of Great Shefford, East Garston, and Eastbury, Lambourn and Upper Lambourn, have come together to form SAGLUV, the Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley. Our prime objective is to secure clear sewers and a clean river; and our prime target is Thames Water.

“Martyn Wright of the EGFPF has agreed to chair SAGLUV which will also be supported by the area’s District Councillors, Clive Hooker and Howard Wollaston. We will be inviting a small number of committed individuals, with specific knowledge and experience from each parish, to join the group to gather evidence of sewage problems, in order to present the strongest possible case to TW, the Environment Agency and other relevant organisations.

“There are no quick fixes and we have to be realistic in what we can, and cannot, achieve with TW in such a precarious financial state, however, we are determined to try! We will keep you updated, and seek your feedback, as the campaign develops.”

• For more information on this (and the EGFPF), please contact martynwright345@btinternet.com.

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