Water company to launch investigation into Letchworth sewage flooding problem

AN INVESTIGATION into a flooding problem which has resulted in sewage being spilt on a nature reserve will be undertaken, more than five years after the issue first arose.

MP for North East Hertfordshire Oliver Heald made the announcement this week after pressing the Environment Agency and Anglian Water for action to stop heavy rainfall at Letchworth GC’s Norton Common repeatedly causing a local sewer to back up.

After working alongside the Friends of Norton Common and North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) to combat the issue, the Letchworth GC MP was told that work will start this month to uncover the sewer overflow, with a commitment by the water company to find a permanent solution.

“After my intervention earlier this year, the Environment Agency held a high level meeting with Anglian Water and I am glad that this work and investigation are now in place in order to find a way of solving the problem, which has led to such concerns at times of high rainfall,” said Mr Heald.

Barbara Crombie, secretary for the Friends of Norton Common, explained to The Comet the extent of the flooding after heavy rainfall.

She said: “When the drain backs up and the manhole cover blows, the spillage drains down one side of the common and over the footpath which is now badly eroded, making what was a newly laid path difficult passage for buggies, etc.

“The hollows in the greensward were then filled with debris and what didn’t settle in these hollows drained into the ditch and straight into the River Pix. The smell has been intense for several days afterwards - as you would imagine.

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“The water company have come to clear up some of the debris but it has been left to us (The Friends of Norton Common) to clear away the remainder of the debris so that the area looks acceptably clean.

“This has happened on a number of occasions and we were really frustrated at this stage because it became all too apparent that the water company were not giving the situation any kind of priority.”

Regarding the news that Anglian Water will now carry out an investigation, Ms Crombie added: “Obviously we are delighted that something at long last is being done.

“We are really grateful to Oliver Heald’s intervention which has finally brought about the promise of some positive action and we look forward to seeing the problem finally resolved.”

An Anglian Water spokesman said: “Work to expose the old sewer overflow on Norton Common will be carried out this month.

“Once this has been done, we will be able to undertake a detailed study of the area’s sewers over the summer to see what can be done to fix the problem.

“What that fix looks like will depend on what we find during the excavation and study, but Anglian Water is committed to finding a permanent solution to the issue of sewage flooding on the common.”

Peter Burt, NHDC’s portfolio holder for waste, recycling and environment, added: “NHDC and the Friends of Norton Common Group have been working hard to try and get this situation resolved for many months. We look forward to seeing the work completed so that residents and visitors can fully enjoy this beautiful green space.”

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