Eastbourne Wastewater Treatment Works upgrade

We’re investing £16 million on a major upgrade of our Eastbourne Wastewater Treatment Works, at Langney Point.

These improvements will help protect the local environment and ensure we can continue to meet the needs of 140,000 customers well into the future.

Spring 2019 update

We're now entering the final phase of the project to renew and refurbish key equipment.

This is improving the way in which wastewater from 115,000 people living and working locally is treated, helping protect and enhance the environment. It's also reducing the level of odour that builds up inside the site, which is mostly underground.

It's important that you report any problems related to the site as quickly as possible to us – for example, any smells or noise. This should be done via 0330 303 0368 and will mean your complaint is officially recorded and can be investigated and resolved as soon as possible.

Find out more details about our work below.

The remaining required improvement work is due to be completed by the end of 2019, with this activity largely taking place inside the works, greatly reducing the risk of disturbance from Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) traffic movements, other noise and smells.

You may still see emergency rescue teams, including fire-fighters and paramedics, stationed outside the site. This is a vital safety measure, given our staff and contractors are working in confined spaces underground in the works.

We've made a variety of operational changes at the works, focused on keeping any impact from smells on the local area to as little as possible. In particular, we have spent over £250,000 on improving the effectiveness and reliability of the system that 'cleans' the air that is leaving the works, which is sealed, via its ventilation network. It was this equipment that experienced a significant breakdown in Summer 2018, leading to air from inside the site having to be released without odours being neutralised first.

Since the system has been worked on by specialist engineers, it has performed very well. Furthermore, the system now has three air 'scrubbers' available, with two in operation at any one time and one on stand-by as a back up. Plus, we have built up a stock of key spare parts for the odour management system on site. So, if an important piece of machinery, such as a pump, needs replacing, this can be done quickly and easily, avoiding any delays in new parts being made and delivered.

We are investing in a new state of the art odour monitoring system, called Envirosuite.

This uses a series of remote sensors placed on the outlets from the site (for example, any vents or doorways) to provide information in real time on any smells that may be getting out. In addition, the computer software takes live weather data, such as wind direction and speed, to identify which locations are likely to be impacted by any odour.

So, if the sensors detect an odour, the works' operators will get an alert via their mobile phones, enabling them to take action to stop the problem quickly. We can also take proactive steps to update people living in the area likely to affected by a smell, something residents have told us is very important to them, whether it's an unexpected issue or an issue that results from planned maintenance work.

The Envirosuite system will also mean we can analyse complaints from residents to accurately identify if a smell originated from the works, or whether it came from another source, such as a blockage in a local sewer or the nearby coast or harbour.

In March 2019, we held a series of briefing sessions for local community representatives, such as councillors and council officers, and customers who have complained to us in the past about smells.

This was to make sure people were kept fully informed and had the opportunity to ask questions face to face. We received positive feedback on these meetings and are taking forward a suggestion to offer them to a wider audience - for example, by providing similar briefings to community forums in the area local.

We've also acted upon a number of ideas and requests from customers - for example, placing special barriers around tanker lorries on site to carry out work, in order to prevent engine noise disturbing people.

Previous updates

10 October

We’re upgrading the underground cranes, which are essential to the smooth running of this large site. We’ve also drained the third biological filter, given it a structural inspection and started refurbishing it.

20 September

We’ve finished refurbishing a second biological filter, and preparing the next one for upgrade work.

We’re using temporary pumping equipment to do this, installed close to the site, which is quicker and quieter than using tankers and also helps reduce smells.

We're making good progress, so will remove the pumping equipment at the end of September. Then we'll carry out improvement work on the filter – which should take around five weeks. When complete, we'll need to re-install the temporary pumping equipment to get the filter running again.

28 August

In order to carry out the next phase of works, we’ll need to install additional pumping equipment close to the site. This will be placed either in the adjacent bus stop car park or near the seafront ice cream parlour.

Because this temporary equipment may create some noise, we’ll be using a series of acoustic barriers to minimise the impact for customers.

This phase of work will begin at the end of August and we aim to complete it by the end of September when the equipment will be removed.

We’d like to thank customers and businesses for their patience while we carry out this essential part of upgrading work.

8 August

Our interim odour management system is now fully operational once again, so any smells from the works should be reduced. We're really sorry if you were affected by any unpleasant odours over the last few days.

Although the system is now working, if you have any concerns or queries, please do get in touch with us on 0330 303 0368.

Meanwhile, work on the site's permanent odour management equipment can now continue, with this project due to be completed by early September. Together with the interim system being restored to service, this will help reduce the risk / impact of any smells that originate from the works in the future

15 June

We’re now using new pumps below ground to transfer filter material without the need to use outdoor tankers, which will help reduce smells around the site. These pumps are powered by four generators, which we will now be encasing in sound-proof barriers to reduce noise.

We’re aware of the potential for increased smells, particularly in the summer months. We’re constantly monitoring odour levels and have completed a full refurbishment of the odour control system.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be installing new isolation valves. This will make carrying out future repairs and maintenance quicker, safer and more cost-effective.

To protect the safety of our teams, we’ve also made further improvements to ensure a safe working environment, including replacing the steel floor. Our emergency rescue teams continue to be on site around the clock while our teams work underground.

15 May

We’ve now nearly completed improvements on one of the biological filters, and this will be put back into service over the next two weeks. We will then begin work on a second filter over the coming weeks.

To carry out this part of the scheme, we’ve worked with an engineering firm to construct a safety cage as an alternative to using scaffolding. This means we’ve been able to carry out this section in less time, while ensuring our staff and contractors are well protected.

These biological filters rely on special filtration material to treat wastewater. The changes we've made mean that we will now be able to pump this material directly from one filter to another, without the need to use outdoor tankers.

This will help to reduce odour coming from the site whenever we need to switch filters in the future.

8 May

Improvement work to the underground chamber where wastewater arrives from Pevensey and Eastbourne is on course to be complete in July. This major part of the project has seen us replacing older sections of concrete with more resilient material to maintain the structure of the chamber.

We've needed to ensure the site has remained full functional throughout this work, so our teams have been working through the night, when flows of wastewater entering the site are much lower. We're now able to work during the daytime too, so work on this section should be complete in July.

April

We’ve now completed our lighting improvements and are preparing to start work on the new odour-control system.

This month, we’ll be continuing to upgrade the treatment tanks, so that we can further improve the quality of wastewater being treated.

Early 2018

We’ve rebuilt three treatment tanks to improve the treatment process and we’re well underway with work to rebuild the inlet, where flows enter the site.

As this is an underground site, making repairs can be complex, but we’ve now made big improvements to ventilation and lighting inside, which will make problem-solving much easier in future. Still to come are upgrades of more treatment tanks.