A £9.5 million project to boost the storage and treatment of wastewater gets underway near Bridgwater, Somerset this autumn, says Wessex Water.
Construction teams will move on to the water recycling centre just outside North Petherton, next to the M5 motorway, in August to begin updating equipment used to treat arriving sewage and adding capacity for excess water flowing through the system after heavy rain.
The work will mean more than 800,000 litres of sewer water will be able to be housed in an underground tank, the increased storage helping to reduce the instances of storm overflows operating automatically to relieve the threat of overwhelmed combined sewers flooding homes and businesses following heavy rainfall.
The added storage,housed below ground on land next to the centre will keep more mixed rain runoff and wastewater in the tank at the centre before it is treated and safely returned to the environment later.
North Petherton, which is expected to take around 10 months to complete, is the latest in a string of Wessex Water schemes that have seen more than £25 million poured into environmental improvements throughout the county just this year.
A £7 million project to add new storage as well as strengthen the removal of chemicals from wastewater is expected to conclude in Ilminster in October. Meanwhile, more than £12 million is being spent to do likewise at rural sites at Milverton and Bishop’s Lydeard in the west of the county.
More than £50 million worth of similar projects have been completed, are currently being carried out or are in the planning stage for the five-year period between 2020 and 2025, says the utility.
Wessex Water project manager Victoria Plummer said: “Upgrading the North Petherton centre means we can further enhance the way we store and treat wastewater before it is returned to the environment in Somerset.
“The increased storage capacity will help to reduce the amount of times storm overflows operate and these projects also help to further protect the environment by improving the health of our watercourses, such as rivers and streams.
“While the centre is the other side of the M5 motorway from the town itself, because this is a significant upgrade we’ve worked hard with the local community to ensure any disruption to local routes is kept to a minimum.
“We have a dedicated temporary access route, which will be reinstated afterwards, to take most heavy construction vehicles and avoid North Petherton itself and while some rights of way will be affected to ensure the work can be completed safely, we’re also manning some areas to ensure walking routes can remain accessible.
Wessex Water says it is continuing to invest £3 million a month to reduce how often storm overflows operate, with this figure rising to £9 million a month, if approved by water industry regulators.