Thames release super sewer plans

October 13, 2010 at 2:45 am

Thames Water has released a 14-week public consultation on plans to build a super sewer at an estimated cost of £3.6 billion to reduce sewage discharges into the River Thames.

Backed by the government, the Thames tunnel will run for 20 miles at a depth of 75 metres. It will start in west London following the route of the river heading east of Tower Bridge.

But building the tunnel could result in bill increases of around £60-65 per year for Thames Water customers.

However, the environment secretary Caroline Spelman said that the tunnel offered “the most cost-effective solution” to the “unacceptable problem of raw sewage being regularly discharged into the Thames”.

Ms Spelman said that she recognised the tunnel came “at a significant cost” but that she would ensure the department for environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) and the water services regulation authority (OFWAT) “continue to scrutinise the costs” so that Thames Water’s proposals “represent proper value for money”.

London has trebled in size since 1850 and its Victorian sewer network is no longer big enough to cope with a 21st century city that is continuing to grow, said Thames Water.

And Thames Water explained that the 57 overflow points situated along the river were built during the 19th century to prevent sewage backing up into the streets when full. But now they discharge sewage into the Thames after just 2mm of rain which happens once a week on average.

Public exhibitions are currently being held across London until October 22 allowing Londoners to have their say on the plans for the tunnel. Construction of the tunnel is set to start in 2013 and end in 2020. For more information visit Thames Tunnel Consultation.

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