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Drainage Strategy - North-East Kent

The Drainage Strategy for North-East Kent sets out our plans to ensure we can provide a reliable and sustainable wastewater service for our customers in this region over the next 25 years.

We have created the Drainage Strategy for North East Kent through consultation with the Environment Agency, Kent County Council and Thanet District Council.

This is a working document which will be updated and republished as we consult further with our customers and stakeholders in the area.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What improvements are you carrying out to your sewers in the North-East Kent region? 
    • We are investing £80 million on an extensive programme of 'sewer rehabilitation' to improve sewerage services and ensure resilience of water supply across Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and the wider Thanet area. 

      This includes the recent completion of a £20 million project to renovate 12km of Victorian sewers across Ramsgate. Built over a century ago, these unique sewers were built by miners who dug underground tunnels through the chalk up to 10 metres deep in places.

      The sewers have served us well but require improvements to ensure they can continue to carry flows safely from properties in Ramsgate to Weatherlees Wastewater Treatment Works (WTW).

      A £3 million scheme is currently underway to replace a long stretch of wastewater pipe near to Military Road in Ramsgate. The existing stretch of pipe is old and has burst a number of times. The new route, which will not be as close to the beach, will help protect the environment and ensure wastewater is removed effectively.
  2. What improvements are you currently carrying out to your wastewater pumping stations in the region? 
    • We have recently invested £4 million on improving the operation of our Wastewater Pumping Station (WPS) at Foreness Point in Margate.

      This includes the refurbishment of the site's screens which remove wet wipes and other non-biodegradable items which can block pumps and cause flooding.

      A further £8 million will be spent over the next few years to increase the resilience of our pumping stations in both Margate and Broadstairs.
  3. How are you working to improve the beaches in the region? 
    • The North-East Kent region contains some of the highest quality bathing waters in the UK. With seven blue flags and three seaside awards, the Thanet coast has more blue flags than any other area in the country, matched only by Cornwall.

      Our customers have told us that improving the quality of our bathing waters is a priority and something they are willing to pay extra through their water bills to fund. We are committed to maintaining 'excellent' water quality at those bathing waters currently classified as such.

      We have also promised to bring an extra seven bathing waters up to 'excellent' status by 2020 as part of our Bathing Water Enhancement Programme.

      We are committed to protecting our coastal waters to ensure they are of the highest quality and we have invested millions of pounds in doing so. As a result, bathing waters across our region have never been cleaner.
  4. How do you plan for new development in the region? 
    • As a statutory service provider, we have a legal obligation to serve new development. We cannot refuse new connections and we are unable to object to new development however, we do have a duty to ensure that the service we provide our existing customers does not deteriorate as a result of new homes being built. 

      We are fully committed to providing the right infrastructure, at the right time, in collaboration with the planning authority and developers and we closely monitor local plans and planning applications to enable us to understand the location and timing of new developments.

      In some cases, new infrastructure, such as new sewers and pumping stations, will need to be built in order to serve new development. In line with the Water industry's regulatory framework, developers may be required to make contributions to the cost of these works.
  5. How will climate change affect the sewerage system? 
    • Climate change is a significant issue for the South East as global warming could lead to changes in sea level, temperature and our weather bringing an increased threat of droughts and flooding. 

      During the development of the Drainage Strategy for North-East Kent, we will be working with our partners and stakeholders to assess any potential impact on our assets and to ensure we are fully informed and can prioritise any actions or investment which may be required.
  6. Is groundwater infiltration of sewers a problem in North-East Kent 
    • Groundwater infiltration into the sewer network, often through cracks and joints, can occur when the water table is high following prolonged periods of rain. The additional groundwater can overwhelm drainage networks and flood sewers.

      The North East Kent region is considered to be at low risk from groundwater flooding and there is little history of infiltration issues.
  7. What is urban creep? 
    • Urban creep is the loss of permeable surfaces within urban areas. Typical ‘urban creep’ activities include the creation of impermeable hard-standing for vehicles in front gardens, the laying of patios in back gardens and the building of house extensions or conservatories.

      This can result in increased runoff entering drains and sewers rather than seeping into the ground. 

      Whilst there remains some uncertainty about the relationship between urban creep and the volume of surface water runoff entering the sewer network, it is widely accepted that additional surface water entering the sewer can increase the risk of flooding whilst reducing capacity to accommodate additional wastewater flows from new developments. 
  8. How will you reduce the uncertainty regarding the impact on your drainage systems due to population growth, climate change and urban creep? 
    • We continue to play an active part  in water industry research groups and forums to increase our understanding of the potential impact of long term issues such as climate change and urban creep.  

      We are also seeking to provide more reliable forecasts of population growth by improving our sources of data and growth modelling. We will continue to work in partnership with developers and planning authorities to improve our understanding of the timing and location of new developments in the region.
  9. Will you be using innovative techniques to improve drainage in the region? 
    • We are constantly investing in the development of innovative techniques that will bring a significant improvement to our capabilities and performance.

      This includes the potential of real time control of the sewerage system, so that we can actively manage high flows arising during storm events, as well as the potential benefits of implementing sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) to reduce surface water entering the sewer network.  

      We are considering both innovative and alternative approaches as we develop the Drainage Strategy for North-East Kent to ensure that we can deliver effective drainage services which will be fit for the future.

  10. How long will it take to develop the Drainage Strategy for North-East Kent and when will we see the benefits? 
    • The Drainage Strategy for North East Kent is the first to be developed across our region. 

      We have already begun detailed discussions with our key stakeholders to improve our knowledge and understanding of issues such as population growth, climate change and urbanisation of our green spaces. Over the coming months, we will need to work in partnership with those organisations who also have important drainage responsibilities to agree a preferred strategy and develop a joint implementation plan. 

      As the strategy develops, we will be undertaking a range of activities to engage, consult and gather the views of our customers in the local community. 

      As we will be considering how we can deliver outcomes over the short (5 years), medium (10 years) and long term (25 years), some benefits may not become fully apparent for several years but we will develop performance measures to ensure that we can track the delivery of these benefits.  

      Over the next few years, we will be developing additional drainage strategies for what we consider to be 'high priority' wastewater catchments. These catchments will be developed on a priority basis following consideration of current and future issues such as population growth, flooding and environmental quality.  

  11. Will you review and change the Drainage Strategies you develop in the future? 
    • The drainage strategies we develop will be reviewed regularly to ensure they remain on track to deliver the desired long term outcomes. 

      Working in partnership with our key stakeholders, we will continue to look forward to ensure that the drainage services we provide are effective and keep pace with future pressures in the years ahead.

      We will publish each strategy document for comment and contribution at every stage of its development.
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