Thames Tunnel opponents press for green alternative

From the newsletter of WaterBriefing dated Wednesday, 12th September 2012, we discover that opponents to Thames Water’s plans for a proposed super-sewer are continuing with their efforts to push for a green alternative to the Thames Tunnel and are urging that consideration to be given to the green solution as adopted by Philadelphia in the USA for overcoming the stormwater pollution problems.

Dr Ben Pontin of the Environmental Law Foundation explained the legal status of the Thames Tunnel in relation to the EU Urban Waste Water Directive, non compliance with which could leave the UK facing fines of around one billion Euros. There are already on-going infraction proceedings in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to decide if the UK is breaching the Directive by the stormwater/sewage overflows into the Thames.

Philadelphia has more CSOsCSO The sewerage system generally carries surface water from rain falling on paved areas (roads, pavements, roofs, etc.) via a separate sewer from the sewer which carries foul water (sewage). Surface water sewers are generally low in contamination and are allowed to discharge direct to rivers and sea with no treatment, whereas foul sewers go to a sewage treatment works. When there is heavy or prolonged rainfall sewage treatment works may receive some of this rainwater and thus become overloaded. In these circumstances they need to overflow, discharging the overflow with little or no treatment. This overflow either goes direct to a river or the sea or, more commonly, into a surface water sewer which already connects with a river or the sea. This event, when a surface water sewer is compelled to accept poorly or untreated foul water, turns the surface water sewer into a combined sewer (surface and foul water) on account of the foul water sewer overflowing into it. When this happens the discharge from the surface water sewer is known as a ‘combined sewer overflow’. (Combined Sewage Outfalls) than London and has to cope with a significant storm water problem.

Green City, Clean Waters is Philadelphia’s 25-year plan to protect and enhance its watersheds by managing stormwater with innovative green infrastructure systems that assist or mimic natural processes. Details of this can be seen by visiting ‘Green City, Clean Waters’.

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