Blog

Spotted in the Valley

After months of requesting the road drains to be jetted and cleaned, something seems to be happening. A team from TfB was spotted mid-week cleaning in Valley Road.

We hope the work continues because a recent audit by a DIG team found that roughly 70 of the 100 or so road drains from Church Farm up to the end of Warrendene were partially or totally blocked.

April Update

Audit of Drains

A small group of 4 within the DIG spent a busy couple of days in March carrying out an audit of the road drains from Church Farm right up through the village to the end of Warrendene Road. The result was that some 70 drains were blocked or partially blocked out of 100 or so. These were reported (individually) via the FixMyStreet website to TfB, and to their credit, the tops of all of them have been brushed since then. Actual cleaning/jetting may take a little longer – it’s only been a year so far.

DIG Website

The DIG website has been rebuilt and is now accessible from within the HVRA website, and adopts the same look and feel as the HVRA website. Take a look – it’s at www.hughendenresidents.org/dig although for the meanwhile the old website is still there at www.hvdig.org .

Status of Sewers

I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief in that the levels in our inspection pits have dropped and the risk of sewage escapes appear to be receding.

There have been two instances of the sewer junction at the corner of the pumping station leaking sewage, causing much consternation in the village. The DIG has written to Thames Water and requested for the inspection hatch to be replaced with a sealed lid. We wait to see if we get a positive answer.

Trees Road

We requested via FixMyStreet that the broken up road surface at the foot of Trees Rd be repaired as it was hazardous and leaving a semi-permanent pool of water there. This area has been quickly repaired, but it remains to be seen if the repair will prevent the pooling of water there – it’s meant to be able to run down the road to the nearest drain. We also need to speak with the water engineer to see if deeper soakaways are feasible there, as one of the soakaways completely overflowed in the last downpour.

Ditches & Culverts Group

We have set up a small group of volunteers for the ditches & stream area near the pumping station, as that is rather prone to accumulating rubbish. The first clean is planned for Saturday 10th April

We know also that for some years just one person has been looking after the ditch area opposite the Harrow, which is also prone to blocking up. It would be good to gather a few others to help out occasionally with that.

Agencies Update

Bucks Council have been successful in their bid regarding the Chilterns & Berkshire Downs Groundwater Resilience project. This means they will receive Defra funding for groundwater monitoring systems, which will include covering Hughenden Valley. A workshop will follow.

Thames Water has advised us that they are introducing a new planning system to replace their existing Drainage Strategy plans. (See the Little Marlow Drainage Strategy on the Documents page of the DIG website). The new planning system is referred to as a Groundwater Impacted System Management Plan (GISMP).

The GISMP’s focus is upon groundwater monitoring and the infiltration of groundwater into the sewage network. Where risk zones are identified it is planned to conduct fixes and improvement interventions within the normal maintenance cycle – presumably this means in the relative short term. Larger interventions will require budget and hence a longer cycle to resolve.

Philip Dunne MP Sewage Bill

The Ludlow MP Philip Dunne has introduced a Private Members Bill to Parliament to help reduce sewage pollution and improve water quality in our rivers and streams.

This is supported by many charities and organisations. The DIG supports this also. Read more and consider supporting the Bill by writing to your MP using the tool provided on the link below.

https://www.philipdunne.com/sewagebill

Sewage Leak at Corner of Pumping Station

On 17th February, a leak was spotted from the sewage inspection hatch at the corner of the pumping station site in the village. This hatch, which lies in the National Trust field (and hence open to all), is sited where the sewage pipe from Naphill comes down to join the main sewer heading to Wycombe.

The leak has tended to be intermittent and not a great flow, but nevertheless has been allowing sewage to get into the watercourse. The DIG alerted Thames Water on 18th and the site was visited by engineers, but they advised that the leak was due to hydraulic pressure and little could be done other than waiting for the pressure on the sewers to recede.

Since then we have alerted the Environment Agency, whose responsibility it is to monitor such leaks, plus the National Trust. The NT put up the signs towards the end of last week.

we are mailing the NT this week to suggest that they should consider putting further signs up in the park, where of course, dogs and children play in the waters.

Leaking Inspection Hatch

Article for Hughenden News Spring Edition

The Stream, Water Table and the Sewers

The winterbourne stream flows again this year in the village, and that makes it two years in a row, in itself a bit of a rarity. Although the stream dried up in the upper reaches last summer, it kept flowing all the way through from Church Farm. Since January, the source of the stream has gradually worked its way back up the Valley and through the village. At the time of writing, the stream is flowing from the ditch opposite the Harrow and down through the village. Strangely, it does not appear in the Hopkins Farm field alongside Valley Road, but re-emerges in Boss Lane.

The downside of having the stream up is that the water table is up in the Valley also. This applies particularly along Valley Road towards the pumping station. Here we know that the sewer main running to High Wycombe is currently full. In a wet winter such as this latest one, ground water and surface water infiltrate the system and overload it. The net result is the risk of sewage escapes, an unpleasant experience. Householders here are watching the situation closely and checking levels in their inspection pits. Thames Water is fully alerted to this situation and if it worsens we may need to call in temporary overpumping systems to help ease the pressure in the sewer main.

Trees Road & Trees Avenue

During the winter it was decided to try and build a small team to perform some self-help on the drainage grills at the foot of Trees Road. Both Trees Ave and Trees Road are un-made up and prone to clogging the drains and allowing water to sweep down onto Valley Road causing a few issues. A small team already existed cleaning the grills in Trees Ave.

The net result was a WhatsApp group of about 15 residents from both roads to perform periodic cleaning. The group go together on 24th January – a day of heavy snow you might recall – for the first clean. The job itself is not trivial, especially this first one, as the job had not been done on Trees Road for years. The team was led by David Mynors who showed the rest how to dismantle the grids and clear the drainage conduits. This was a great result, after two hours of hard work, with everyone wishing that a visit to the Harrow was possible.

Since then, TfB have visited after much badgering to perform a jetting & drain cleaning operation. They are needed to clear out the drains and pipework adjacent to the drainage grills. All we have to do now is persuade TfB that the rest of the road drains in Hughenden Valley need cleaning.

HVDIG Now Part Of HVRA

A special meeting of HVDIG took place at the end of January via Zoom and HVDIG is now part of the residents association and led by Peter Cannon, the Chairman. We are now called the HVRA Drainage Improvement Group.

As a first step, the HVDIG website has been altered to include the name changes and now incorporates the HVRA website banner/heading that emphasises the new identity. Further changes will take place over time, such as constitution and banking.

New Name for HVDIG

Special Meeting

The planned DIG Special Meeting took place at the end of January via Zoom and we are now a part of the Hughenden Residents Association and officially known as the HVRA Drainage Improvement Group.  

Peter Cannon was elected Chairman and the meeting discussed matters such as future finances, the constitution, financing and the website. In addition we discussed how the DIG will proceed in future. Changes will take place slowly, starting with the website.

The meeting minutes have been placed on the Docs page.

The Stream, Water Table and the Sewers

The winterbourne stream has kept flowing right the way through this last year. Although it dried up during the summer in the upper reaches, it kept flowing from Church Farm down through the park. And since January, the wet winter has resulted in the stream working its way back up through into Hughenden Valley and along the backs of the houses. I can’t remember seeing the stream running two years in a row in the village before.

This has meant, of course, that the water table is high and is continuing to rise at present. Inevitably, this means that the infiltration of ground water into the sewage system will present a risk of sewage escapes if the rains continue. Neighbours at the south end of the village are monitoring levels in their inspection pits – sewage unable to drain into the main sewer is a sure sign of the sewer being under pressure. Thames Water have been alerted to this.

Trees Rd & Trees Ave

In the last blog I described the drainage issues in these two roads and that we were trying to build a small team of volunteers to periodically clear the drainage grids. The response was far greater than expected and there exists now a WhatsApp group of about 15 neighbours ready to turn out from time to time.

On 24th January – the day of some heavy snow in our area, the team assembled for the first clean operation. The job itself is not trivial and the guys were shown by David Mynors from Trees Ave how to dismantle the grids and clear the drainage conduits. All in all, a two hour job in very cold and snowy conditions, but a great result in the end. See the pic.

It is hoped that by doing this work we will build a better relationship with TfB and the councils; hopefully by showing that we can contribute towards looking after the village, they will respond more favourably towards us when we call for help.

New Year Update

Happy New Year.

HVDIG Special Meeting

The Special DIG meeting planned for this month will take place on Thursday 28th January at 7.30pm. This will be held using Zoom, and we have decided that we will restrict attendance to the Committee members only. In part this is because of the quality issues that happen when more than one person speaks at a time, but also in part because of our lack of experience with running such a meeting.

If you would have liked to attend and wanted to offer an opinion on our way forward, or ask a question, contact me and I’ll raise it at the meeting. Nevertheless, we will issue minutes of the meeting and will also ensure that we provide an opportunity to review the points discussed when we have the opportunity to meet together. No doubt we all look forward to the day that it can happen.

Trees Road & Trees Avenue

These unmade-up roads have drainage grills running across the road at its foot and which connect to the road drains. The roads are hilly and susceptible to large levels of water running down during wet weather. Along with this comes stones and debris which block the grills & drains.

A small team of neighbours look after the grill & drain for Trees Avenue, so it is kept pretty clear. Trees Road is more problematic in that there is no team at present and the bottom of the road where it meets Valley Road gets periodically flooded and the drains blocked. Through the Residents Association’s Road Reps, the DIG has established contact with the Trees Ave team and we are now seeking to find one or two volunteers from Trees Rd. The aim is to try and get together a small cohesive group (perhaps linked together through WhatsApp) that can periodically clear the grills.

Affinity Pumping Station

I am just awaiting dates for a site meeting with Affinity to check out the culverts.

DEFRA Project

We have signed up this month to the Bucks CC / DEFRA project, titled:

Innovative Flood Resilience: Developing flood resilience in communities that are at risk of flooding from groundwater

Our involvement will essentially be through attending and contributing to steering group meetings and helping deliver community engagement. Their words, not mine.

This could be very beneficial for the Valley, with potentially the following topics covered:

· Groundwater warning systems: improved network of boreholes and rain gauges and to include innovative measures such as Livelab gully sensors

· Modelling of flood risk in groundwater fed areas across and to capture knowledge and understand better these areas where there are gaps in mapping and data

· Live flood warning system for residents using information from modelling and monitoring system

· Close working with communities through parishes, community boards, flood groups; social media and other innovative data gathering to capture their understanding and needs, taking a bottom-up approach

· Working with communities through engagement officers to raise awareness and readiness for flooding and develop flood wardens/groups for future resilience

· Events to encourage rain gardens, de-paving of driveways and more sustainable drainage within communities · Exploration with communities and landowners around opportunities for Natural Flood Management in the catchments which will help with climate change resilience.

· Researching and developing improved and innovative approaches to individual property flood resilience measures that address groundwater

· Working collaboratively with partners to identify projects which will be mutually beneficial to flooding, climate change and habitat creation to develop and sustain the health and wellbeing resilience of communities.

Valley Rd & Warrendene Rd Road Drains

The road drains (and the new drainage chambers) in Valley Road were meant to be cleaned and jetted following the drainage roadworks in mid-2020. As far as I know it didn’t happen. Since then, drains all along the Valley have become silted up and the leaf fall this winter only made it worse.

We have so far alerted Bucks CC via the ‘Fix My Street’ website, which is totally unsuitable for reporting in a detailed manner. This only seems to elicit a ‘No action Required’ response.

More recently I have asked David Carroll to bring this to the attention of James Tunnard. Nothing seems to be happening. It seems to me there is absolutely no point in getting drainage improvements engineered if then there is no follow-up maintenance to keep the improved drains clear. We need some form of better understanding with the Council to ensure routine preventative maintenance can be periodically carried out and exceptional action happens after heavy storms block drains.

December Update

A note from the Acting Chairman.

There seems to have been a lot happening of late, and this will get you bang up to date with what’s been happening.

Joining the HVRA

This is still planned to go ahead, but I shan’t be able to get anything underway until the New Year. At that point I will call a Zoom meeting for us to get together and decide things. As you know, we will invite Peter Cannon, HVRA Chair to become the Chairman of HVDIG too.

He has already taken a strong level of interest in our little group. Matt and I took Peter on a walk at the end of November to take him round the lower end of Hughenden Valley and introduce him to the risk areas that are prone to stream, surface water and sewage escapes.

Since then, I have made a start at the HVRA monthly meetings providing an update on our activities. In addition to getting our message more widely known, this does have the effect of people bringing action requests our way. One of these was from Peter himself who requested that we do what we could to get the road drains cleaned and jetted. Debs Lemon raised this hairy chestnut through the Fix My Street website; as yet no activity, but the leaf fall has really resulted in these drains being blocked.

For when we integrate with HVRA, we need to get some ideas of what we want to achieve. Do we keep calling ourselves HVDIG for instance, or do we become HVRA Drainage Improvement Group. To save money, we should move our web site over into the HVRA website. Do we reduce it down to something much smaller, perhaps to just 2-3 pages? I am not sure if the Blog is really worth doing as I think probably only a few people read it. If we integrate the web sites, it would be possible to use Facebook to publish our news – Hughenden has a Facebook group with a large number of members. If you get a chance let me know your thoughts.

Meeting with Jonathan Roberts TfB engineer

Debs and I met with Jonathan Roberts recently. Debs organised this following completion of the road drainage works and resurfacing in Valley Road. We discussed the issue that surface water emanating from further up Valley Road can sweep down and then up on the pavement on the London side of Valley Road at the bottom of Coombe Lane (Just by the green BT Box).  

This area of the pavement has a dropped kerb (for crossing the road to the village hall). This means for the moment, the pavement flooding which has blighted us for a long time continues. A possible solution for this is to install a grill across the dropped kerb which will capture surface water and channel it into the nearby road drain. We will discuss things further in the New Year.

Affinity Pumping Station

I recently approached Affinity Water to see whether they could clean and jet the culverts that run under the pumping station. My first few telephone calls only resulted in being told that it was a sewage issue and I needed to talk with Thames Water. After walking down to the pumping station I found that a faded sign on the wall of the building give a site no (263) and a telephone number to ring in emergency. After ringing that I was able to make contact with the Affinity Estates Dept, who look after the site. I’ve update the Advice page so we can easily make contact next time around. We wait to see if they do the work……

BRAVA Workshop

I contacted Darren Trenchard of Thames Water recently to ask a question about boreholes and stream flooding. He was very helpful and pointed me to a flooding website. The day after, the DIG received an invite from him to take part in a BRAVA workshop, which is an initial part of their DWMP. Pretty scary eh? What this turned out to be was a Baseline Risk & Vulnerability Assessment, a first stage in the building of TW’s Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan.

TW invited us to provide local knowledge on the flood risks in Hughenden Valley, as the meeting would seek to discuss areas in South Bucks like ours that have flooding issues. Prior to the meeting I developed a document mapping and describing our risks, I’ve attached this so you can take a peek.

Matt Hopkins and I attended this workshop this week; a large online session attended mostly by Thames Water, Bucks CC and Environment Agency professionals. TW talked about building their future sewage system for future decades and wanted local knowledge so that present issues are fully taken care of. Over a dozen risk areas were listed to be discussed but only a few were covered and with time running out, we were very fortunate in that Darren invited us to talk about Hughenden. I provided an introduction to the stream, surface water and sewage escapes we suffer from and Matt then followed up with more detail and a description of some of the technical aspects.

The important thing that came out of this meeting is that HVDIG will now be included in future stages of the development process in building the sewage system of the future. Can’t wait!

We’ve sent a copy of our risks document to Karen Fisher, Lead Flood Management Office for Bucks CC; she was in the meeting.

DEFRA Project

Matt has been contacted by Jed Ramsay, new Lead Flood Program Management Officer at Bucks CC. He is involved with a DEFRA project involving monitoring and reporting on groundwater flooding and has asked if the DIG might consider becoming involved as a partner. More detail will be provided in due course. For the moment the DIG has expressed interest.

Article Submitted for Hugh News Winter edition

The Hughenden Stream

The stream dried up quite quickly in its upper reaches during the course of this year. Despite this, it continues to flow merrily from Church Farm downwards and in the accompanying photograph is showing its face above the farm.

The course of the stream above Church Farm

A much earlier photograph taken in the same area is a nostalgic reminder of years gone by.

With the winter season approaching, who knows, it may continue to flow all winter.

Drainage and Other Stuff

The roadworks in the Village Hall area are complete. The final Valley Road section was carried out several weeks back when the road surfacing along from the Surgery to the Village Hall was done. Fortunately, all this work was carried out at night and so was not a major disruption to traffic. It was rather noisy considering we were trying to sleep, but the work was carried out brilliantly. On the morning after the final night’s work we even found that the white lining had been carried out in the dark. The new surface is quiet and has a specific camber aimed at helping the road drainage. Taking this with the additional drains that have been put in, the road is performing well at present. Further re-surfacing work on Coombe Lane should be completed well before this issue comes out.

We are aware from one period of heavy rainfall that water sweeping down from further up Valley Road can still result in a bad accumulation of water and detritus at the foot of Coombe Lane. We are following up with TfB on this point.   

Up on Warrendene Road it is good to see that the drainage ditch along its length has been cleared out, a neat job and very timely too, what with winter hard by.

 The Future of HVDIG

 The AGM took place on 30th September, an odd event given the COVID restrictions and also that David White, the Chair was resigning – with no successor in sight. We had foreseen that David’s resigning coupled with our being a small group would give us a dilemma for the future – how to continue?

In the event it was decided that we would approach the Residents Association to enquire about the possibility of aligning ourselves closer with the HVRA. That we did and our joining the HVRA has been agreed in principle at the HVRA committee meeting held on 3rd October.

Peter Cannon will be invited to become Chairman of HVDIG and once he has taken up the position we will look towards restructuring the DIG to fit more closely with HVRA.