Fenland District Council raises concerns about water quality and flooding in Q&A with Anglian Water
The water company which supplies homes in Fenland has answered concerns raised by councillors over flooding, water quality, and drainage.
Speaking at Fenland's overview and scrutiny committee representatives from Anglian Water outlined work being carried out to help prevent flooding in areas of March but warned there was no 'silver bullet' to solve the issues particularly in the Morton Avenue area.
The representatives were at the meeting to address concerns previously raised by Coun Gavin Booth following a number of complaints he had received from the company's customers, particularly in outlying villages.
Coun Fred Yeulett said: “There have been flooding issues in March East since Noah was a boy! The worst hit areas being Morton Avenue, Cavalry Drive and Upwell Road.
“Leader of the council, Coun Chris Boden and I had a very good meeting with Brian Heffernan, principal officer flood risk at Cambridgeshire County Council in the summer, and he explained how council workmen had exposed the drain on Cavalry Drive which wasn’t running freely.
“I would like to know if Anglian Water are satisfied with their systems in East March and particularly those areas mentioned, and what they intend to do to help the council and their officers in pursuing these flooding problems?”
Jonathan Glerum, regional flood manager for Anglian Water responded: “We are very much aware of the issues along Cavalry Drive, Upwell Road and particularly Morton Avenue as you have said.
“Following the winter flooding my operational colleagues have done a huge amount of work to undertake checks on our system and make sure that wherever possible the water is flowing freely.
“My understanding is that these checks have not shown up anything untoward in Cavalry Drive, and, if it did, then it was cleared immediately.
“I think the key issue which a number of us are working on is the bungalows to the north-end of Morton Avenue which have suffered flooding for a number of years.
“The latest updated information that I have is that recent works undertaken by our team where the sewer from Morton Avenue discharges into what was once the course of the Nene, restrictions have been removed in the manhole there that was put in many years ago, we wouldn’t increase the flood risk downstream, but we would improve the risk to those properties on Morton Avenue.
“That work is now complete and hopefully the next time we see some heavy rain we will be able to ascertain if that has made any difference.
“Unfortunately, this will not be the ‘silver bullet’ for the flooding in Morton Avenue, and its clear from the flood maps that there is a defined ‘dip’ where those properties sit.
“This, therefore, is an area that will always be at risk and so while we are open to explore what opportunities are available to make them more resilient to flooding, it will be encompassed as part of the work already undertaken as well as ongoing flood risk work being carried out across March.
“This is a huge piece of work that will have to be carried out by Anglian Water and the County Council to hydraulically model the drainage network system as a whole.”
Coun Yeulett also raised issues of flooding in Christchurch which he said were caused by work carried out Anglian Water in 2009/10.
He said Highways have now located the source of the flooding and its related to the water firm's work which had left gullies covered and pipes damaged during that sewage-scheme installation.
He said: “This is by no means an isolated matter as people in other villages have reported the same and we have asked people to bring us their information.
“What do Anglian Water intend to do with regard to the costs of rectifying these problems?”
Rose Shisler, stakeholder engagement programme lead for Anglian Water, replied: “Yes, we did complete a first-time sewerage scheme in 2009; but in terms of support, we would be willing to look at any investigation into that by the Highways Authority.
“If it was found that any of these flooding issues were directly related to that scheme, then of course we would work together to rectify those.”
Ms Shisler, added the firm has a broad priority for its infrastructure in terms of replacement based on risk to the area and to consumers.
She said “At Anglian Water, we welcome individual concerns being put by our consumers either directly to our engagement team, or through members of Fenland District Council via this committee.
“At Friday Bridge for example we have been refurbishing, cleaning and ensuring that our storage assets, by which I mean the water storage towers, are all fit for purpose and slightly changed the way that water moves around the system.
“I spoke with the water maintenance manager for that region just this morning and he tells me there haven’t been that many complaints about the water pressure, but what I am happy to do is receive any specific complaints that you are getting and I will look into these as soon as possible.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work in and around the Wisbech, Wisbech St Mary and Parson Drove areas lately where we have been laying new water mains and refurbishing older water mains so that they are fit for years to come.
“The purpose is to provide an enhanced resilience to the communities, which in real terms means we’re able to feed water from a different area to an area where its needed more in order to maintain an even pressure for customers wherever they may be.
“Because none of our assets have a specific life-time when installed, its performance is dependent upon the use it gets, how hard it is functioning and that too is then based on a number of different factors.
“For a water main for example, it can be based on the ground conditions, soil-type, weather, temperature, the depth the main is in the ground and how many properties it is feeding, whether we’re feeding the full configuration of the network or just part of it.
“But I can assure you that our assets are monitored remotely 24/7 and we do keep a very close eye on them, and based upon that we have a planned schedule of maintenance which we expect to be completed by the end of November.”
Coun Bob Wicks said: “I’ve had a number of complaints from my constituents regarding the quality of the water at the tap from people in my ward; everything from the colour of the water to things that appear to be floating in it.
“What guarantees do we have from Anglian Water that the quality of the water being delivered to people in the more remote wards is of a consistently good quality?”
Ms Shisler replied: “Again, at the risk of repeating myself, I would encourage residents to contact me or my team if they have any concerns about the quality of the water being delivered to them.
“All the water that we treat and then deliver to our customers is of the highest standards, and we are rigidly and diligently regulated on that one by the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which is the independent regulator in this field.
“Water treatment is a multi-phase process depending upon where we get it from – it might be an underground bore-hole or an above-ground reservoir.
“But every drop has to be treated to an extremely high standard before we are allowed to send it out to our customers.
“So first, let me say that the quality of water they receive at the tap won’t be dependent on where they are or live, as all water is treated to that very high standard to start with.
“If the people you have mentioned do have any concerns, I would ask that they report these to us as we do take every report very seriously and will look into it fully and properly.”
Chair, Coun David Mason thanked the Anglian Water team who attended and took part in the question-and-answer session saying; “It was a very useful meeting and I believe that we have looked into and answered a lot of the outstanding questions, but it is clear that there is more work to be done in the future.”