Downs Link Thames Water 29-09-16 (3)

Northdowns Sewage Update

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For residents of Northdowns the winter has brought some welcome relief from the pong of sewage emanating from a sewage pipe running behind their houses on the Downs Link.

However, yes you’ve guessed it, this problem has not yet been fixed!

Thames Water had finally managed to locate the manhole cover, as reported in our article dated 17 January 2017 and discovered that tree roots had caused a problem.  They said that they were going to return to reline the sewer.

However, as yet the work has not been completed, despite complaints from residents since 4 August 2016!


As one of our residents observed:

“I first reported the ‘pong’ to Thames water on 4th August, and the engineer that came on the 5th said that they needed to clear the brambles. (Others have repeated this since). So it was a full 5 months before they actually did it.

There had, in the mean time, been dozens of phone calls, many visits, with cameras and high pressure hoses (probably involving, hundreds of man hours) as they investigated the main line of the sewer.

When the task of clearing the brambles was eventually undertaken, they found that it was the branch sewer, that was clearly shown on their maps, that joined at the point were the ‘pong’ was, was the source. (Surprise-surprise).

There have been many unfulfilled promises of action and explanation of the reason for the long time involved.

How can Thames Water be expected to cope with a thousand new houses, when a simple job like this is beyond their capabilities.”


We have been regularly chasing these repairs and yet we still wait and wait for the Northdowns work to commence……

The amount of time and money being wasted on this ONE leaking sewer beggars belief.

The timeline for the work just keeps moving:

Thames Water email 21st Feb 2017:

We attended to the property in Northdowns on 19 February 2017, we cut away bushes and hedges which were preventing our contractors from carrying out the relining of the drain. Now this has been actioned and we can work safely, we are planning in a date for the repair. I’ll update you on this by 2 March 2017.

Thames Water email 14th Feb 2017:

As explained in my previous email dated 27 January 2017, I’d contacted Lanes to confirm the work details for the root cut that needed to take place. They have since responded with the information and having checked it today, I can see the root cut was completed on 9 January 2017.

However, during this work, the team identified a misplaced joint. For this reason, Lanes have raised follow on work to patch line the area of the sewer in question. This job is currently waiting to be scheduled and as it’s not high priority, may take longer than we’d normally expect. I will continue to monitor this and chase, to ensure the work goes ahead as quickly as possible and will provide you with every update I receive.

If you’d like to discuss the above, please call me on 0800 0093902. Our offices are open 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday. If I’m unavailable you can either leave a message, or one of my colleagues will be happy to help you.

I’ve sent an escalation to Lanes today, to request a scheduled date for the lining. I’ll check in again with them in a few weeks time, and will let you know of any news.

Thames Water email 13th Feb 2017:

The work to repair the drains in Northdowns is still being planned in. The CCTV survey we carried out had to be reviewed by our Technical Specialists before the follow on work could be raised, to ensure the team carrying out the repair had the correct instructions. The work has been raised and I’ve escalated this job to confirm a planned date for the work. I’ll update you on this no later than 21 February 2017.

Thames Water email 3rd Feb 2017:

We are still planning in the work to repair the drain in Northdowns which was causing the bad smell. I’ve escalated this again today to get a planned date. I’ll contact you by 14 February 2017 with an update.

Thames Water email 27th Jan 2017:

We attended Northdowns yesterday, 26 January 2017, and marked up where we need to dig down to carry out the repair. We are planning in the date to do this. I’ll contact you by 3 February 2017, with an update.

Thames Water email 13th Jan 2017:

We attended and cut the brambles on 5 January 2017, and uncovered 3 manhole covers. We lifted the covers and camera surveyed the drains, we found there was a mass of roots in the line causing a blockage, stopping wastewater from flowing freely down the drains. This is what was causing the bad smell.

We re-attended on 9 January 2017 and removed all the roots from the line. Once we had done this we camera surveyed the line again and have identified a hole in this section of the drain. We are planning to reline the sewer to repair the defect. We’re in contact with the customer who needs to grant us access and they’re aware of this work.

I’ll contact you with an update by 23 January 2017. If you need to speak to me in the meantime, please telephone me on 0800 0093902. Our offices are open between the hours of 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If I am unavailable when you call then you can either leave a message for me or one of my colleagues will be pleased to assist.

Thames Water email 27th Jan 2017:

We attended and cut the brambles on 5 January 2017, and uncovered 3 manhole covers. We lifted the covers and camera surveyed the drains, we found there was a mass of roots in the line causing a blockage, stopping wastewater from flowing freely down the drains. This is what was causing the bad smell.

We re-attended on 9 January 2017 and removed all the roots from the line. Once we had done this we camera surveyed the line again and have identified a hole in this section of the drain. We are planning to reline the sewer to repair the defect. We’re in contact with the customer who needs to grant us access and they’re aware of this work.

Thames Water Email 23rd Dec 2016:

There are manhole covers, covered in brambles, we’ve been unable to access. We need to cut the brambles away in order to lift the manhole covers to see whether there is an operational issue in this section of the drains.  I’ve escalated this job to our contractors, Lanes for Drains and asked them to plan this job in as soon as possible, they’ve assured me this will be done after the Christmas period. I’ve been assured this will be planned in the first week of January. As we’re yet to investigate this stretch of drain, I’m unable to confirm what is causing the smell at present.

I’ll let you know once we have a date to cut back the brambles to investigate this drain. If you’d like to speak to me in the meantime, please telephone me on 0800 0093902. Our offices are open between the hours of 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If I am unavailable when you call then you can either leave a message for me or one of my colleagues will be pleased to assist.

Thames Water email 28 Nov 2016:

We hadn’t completed our investigations as we needed to check the manholes covered in brambles, which I stated in my last email. We attended on 19 November 2016, to cut the brambles back so we could check the drain this manhole gives us access to. The manhole we revealed didn’t have any laterals leading off of it. We need to find a manhole under these brambles, so we can gain access to the drain and do a camera survey to see if there’s a defect or blockage causing this smell. We are currently planning in the next visit and I’ll update you when this is planned in.

Thames Water email 14 Nov 2016:

A bad smell was reported on 4 August 2016, we found the smell was coming from a bush area on the old railway line. We attended on 5 August 2016, and our subcontractors Lanes were unable to find any blockages in the drains. We couldn’t lift one manhole cover to check as it was overgrown with brambles. 

A Network Engineer attended on 16 August 2016, when he arrived there was no smell present. A resident explained there was a smell in the area at times. Another resident reported the smell and we attended on 27 August 2016, there was no smell present at this time either, however they should’ve been made aware we had an outstanding line clean on the system.

We attended on 23 August 2016, to carry out a camera survey. We identified there was fat and grease in the line, we removed what we could on 31 August 2016, but had to raise further work so we could get bigger equipment to remove the remaining blockage. We attended on 4 October 2016, to remove the remaining fat and grease from the line but were unable to complete the work as the equipment wasn’t working. 

We re-attended on 11 October 2016, to carry out a camera survey to confirm that all our assets were clear. We surveyed from manhole 0202 to 0205, from manhole 9301 downstream to 9403, from manhole 9403 downstream to 9402 and found no defects. We jetted the line from manhole 9402 upstream to 0202 to clear fat and scale from the line.

A Network Engineer has met with a resident today and confirmed where the manhole is under the bramble, he’ll be raising further work for us to cut back the brambles so we can lift the manhole cover and check for defects. I’m sorry this hadn’t been raised from the initial visit, when we identified there was a manhole that we couldn’t check. I’m going to send you an update to let you know when we’ll return once the job has been raised and planned in.

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