A Happy New Year to all those concerned for tankers on our roads and pollution in Pillhill Brook. This Report updates from Nov 21. As we enter the groundwater season, we now chat to SW on a weekly conference call to update on groundwater levels, and progress and plans for capital and temporary works. The headline is that in the last two months water levels have not yet risen significantly, suggesting tankering may not be required until end-January or subsequently.
Repair work on public wastewater pipes has recently been focused around Mullens Pond on Wiremead Lane; SW moves to Amport and Monxton through the rest of January. SW has explained plans for review and repair of private sector pipes, and Parish Councils have supported this scope on social media and on the website.
Plans for temporary works to avoid disruption to residents local to water pumping stations progresses but at a slow pace. Repairs were again necessary at Little Ann Bridge, causing disruption in Amport, East Cholderton and Upper Clatford as tankers were deployed for two days whilst repairs were effected.
- SW have repaired (lined) nearly 2000m of public sector pipes; this should significantly reduce inundation entering SW’s network.
- Repairs of the public sewers have moved into a second phase in Jan 22, initially at Mullens Pond and next in Amport and Monxton (residents will have seen signs warning of future works, residents immediately adjacent to sites may have received letters, and we remain active on Facebook with on-going developments).
- Recent repairs to the ‘rising water main’ (leak) at Little Ann Bridge impacted our roads over the Christmas period. We identified further valuable lessons that have been fed back to SW; we will follow up.
- Repairs to private sector pipes are an essential element of reducing inundation and we agreed SW’s proposed approach to residents and published details on social media and on the website. Inspections started upstream (Fyfield and Kimpton) but have now been stopped. It’s clear further inspections will require more water in the system if they are to be fully effective.
- Temporary works progress at SW’s water pumping stations to reduce disruption to residents and road users – but slowly. Installation of adequate mains electricity supply is underway at MP and a lay-by is also scheduled for completion by end-Jan 22 (at risk).
- Discussions with SW and the EA on the second draft Fyfield IRP appear to have been completed, prematurely in our view – before the completion of consultation with the PCs, as SW had promised. We will re-engage.
- SW has not yet provided adequate visibility of the temporary and capital works scope and timeframes and its now clear there is no single lead for these works, nor a plan for the scope and schedule of the works that any project manager worth their salt would consider necessary. The weekly calls help with our awareness but we would observe that it is a cumbersome way for SW to manage the project.
- The next Pan Parish Forum (PPF) is on 17 Jan 22.
- The Chair and Secretary to the PPF (Chris Harris and Tim Grimshaw) brief our local MP, Kit Malthouse, on 21 Jan 22. In support of this meeting, on 7 Jan 22 Rebecca Pow, PUSS DEFRA – the Minister responsible for policy in regard to our concerns – wrote to Kit Malthouse, saying she was ‘pleased to hear of the work you and the Pan Parish Forum have been doing to reduce pollution in your local area’ and explained the government’s commitment to improving water quality and setting out the requirements they have placed on SW. SW has agreed to extend the scope of their commitments to us; more in due course
- The key risk is that tankering will be required before temporary works have been completed that would reduce the disruption at their sites.
- Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, SW intend to install UV infiltration pumps at Fyfield and Mullens Pond by end-Jan 22 (at risk) to support over-pumping, were it required and the EA permit it; SW is clear we do not want further pollution of Pillhill Brook.
- Engagement with Highways from HCC and with Fyfield Parish Council in regard to attendance at the PPF have not yet been finalised.