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Ask a Councillor

Do you have any questions for our councillors? ‘Ask a Councillor’ aims to help you get answers on the issues you care about, from road safety to housing, from youth facilities to council transparency.


In this issue, Cllr. Chris Williams responds to concerns about sewage in the Creek.


QUESTION:


During November 2018 the Sewage Works discharged a mixture of surface water and sewage for a continuous period of over 90 hours! Because this is the only monitored outlet we hate to think of what is coming out of the others that feed into Faversham Creek. When is something going to be done to limit the increasing frequency that the Combined Sewer Overflows dump raw sewage in the Creek, especially after heavy rainfall?


ANSWER:


With increased population and high risks of heavy rain and storms associated with climate change, this is a serious concern for the health of local people and flora and fauna that rely on the creek and surrounding areas to thrive.


It is clear that our infrastructure is going to be put to the test with these extreme weather conditions and higher demand on resources due to increased housing. As I understand it The Environment Agency regularly checks the water quality on the creek to ensure that there isn’t continuous contamination into the creek which could affect fish and wildlife, but this doesn’t account for all bacteria that could be present which can affect people’s health. The period in 2018 was a very serious event which can’t continue to take place with the potential for more overflows to take place after heavy rain.


Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) are there to help cope with the excess water that comes from storms and heavy rain to ensure safe discharge into the creek, once the water flow subsides. This currently applies to five outlets from the sewage works but not all are monitored regularly. There are more risks of overflow without treatment due to the change in the amount of water the system is supposed to cope with.


Southern Water does not have any plans in their 2020 to 2025 budgets for improving the situation, either the Works or the CSOs, and continue to rely on the Environment Agency licenses to discharge. This is concerning given that Swale, and the creek are part of a Marine Conservation Zone to protect shellfish from contamination.


Faversham Creek Trust and other groups around the town are doing great work in monitoring the situation, informing the Environment Agency and liaising with local councillors. I myself will be looking at this in more detail especially in my capacity on the Public Spaces Committee and chair of the Climate and Biodiversity Committee.



Editor's note: The Eye is always pleased to see our local Councillors responding to our questions but when the answers are basically a summary of what we ourselves reported (see Faversham Eye 5), there is little point in the exercise. We need proactive representation.