Somerset acquires 800,000-litre tank to store sewer water during heavy rains
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A £9.5m project to improve wastewater treatment in Somerset will significantly boost the sewage storage capacity of the area during downpours.
Construction teams will begin upgrading a water recycling centre just outside North Petherton this month, which will see updated equipment treating excess water flowing through the system.
The work, undertaken by Wessex Water, will allow more than 800,000 litres of sewer water to be housed in an underground tank. The increased storage will operate automatically to help reduce the number of storm overflows. The storage will be housed below ground on land next to the centre and will keep more mixed rain run-off and wastewater in the tank at the centre before it is treated and safely returned to the environment. The project is expected to take around 10 months to complete.
Earlier this year, a major incident was declared in Somerset after heavy thunderstorms caused severe flash floods and mudslides across the county. The floods saw entire villages cut off, with people ordered to leave their homes as water levels reached 4ft in the worst affected areas.
Wessex Water project manager Victoria Plummer said: “Upgrading the North Petherton centre means we can further enhance the way we store and treat wastewater before it is returned to the environment in Somerset.
“The increased storage capacity will help to reduce the amount of times storm overflows operate, and these projects also help to further protect the environment by improving the health of our watercourses, such as rivers and streams.
“While the centre is the other side of the M5 motorway from the town itself, because this is a significant upgrade we’ve worked hard with the local community to ensure any disruption to local routes is kept to a minimum.”
The water firm is also nearing completion on a £7m project to add new storage and strengthen the removal of chemicals from wastewater in Ilminster. More than £50m worth of similar projects have been completed, are being carried out or are in the planning stage for the period up to 2025.
Last week, six water companies in England – which did not include Wessex Water – were accused of abusing their market dominance and consistently under-reporting the number of times they caused pollution incidents in an effort to overcharge customers.
Over the weekend, it emerged that the Labour Party is considering introducing measures in its general election manifesto that would see water companies facing fines every time they dump sewage into rivers and seas.
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