Meeting for Residents with Consultants on Drainage Strategy Soon

Eight2o (an alliance of consultants and contractors working with Thames Water) are working on the Thames Water Drainage Strategy for Hughenden Valley and are looking to arrange a meeting to discuss how to best work with HVDIG and residents to draw upon local knowledge, to better target survey investigations and aid identification of cost effective actions with the potential to reduce the risk of flooding and loss of service. Watch this space for details of the meeting date

HVDIG Second Agencies Meeting – June 2015

On 16th June HVDIG held its second Agencies Meeting with representatives from Thames Water, Bucks County Council and the Environment Agency to monitor progress on actions to deal with any future events similar to those experienced in 2001 and 2014.

Thames Water have carried out a lot of work on their network in Hughenden Valley, carrying out CCTV work, cleaning, lining and installing monitors in key places to get data on the water going through their network. They have set up a special reference number for Hughenden Valley to report a future event on their emergency phone line and have two pumps with sewage treatment systems at the Little Marlow depot allocated for Hughenden Valley to pump at a future event with their network set up for them to be quickly implemented – one system will be outside the Surgery in Valley Road and the other in Boss Lane and they will pump the treated water into the Hughenden Stream. All of this is being managed and documented in Thames Water’s “Hughenden Valley Drainage Strategy” that will be submitted to the Environment Agency. The draft of Stage 1: Initialise/Prepare was issued in November 2015 to Key Stakeholders for comment.

The mobile treatment works can be in place within days. Thames Water will use the information from the Environment Agency groundwater monitoring and the depth monitors in the sewer network to get an early warning of a likely event where the mobile treatment works may need to be “primed” – which takes two weeks – and deployed. They can still be effective if not fully primed in terms of screening the flow but may not be up to full biological treatment capacity. The mobile plant treatment won’t be as good as a full sewage processing works but will reduce bacteria by an estimated 40% and add oxygen. They rely on the flow to get the media working and there will be a filter which will have checks twice a day.

In October 2014 the Environment Agency issued a formal warning to Thames Water for the sewer discharges and over pumping into the Hughenden stream between 26 February and 05 June 2014.  This activity was a contravention of Regulation 12 and 38 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, causing polluting matter – sewage – to enter the Hughenden Stream.

Bucks County Council have allocated budget and are due to carry out maintenance work on their infrastructure in Hughenden Valley in February 2016. A potential blockage of one of the culverted pipes under Valley Road that flows into the drainage ditch forming part of the Hughenden Stream on the west side of Valley Road (in front of the Village Hall) needs CCTV investigation and the open section of the ditch needs to be dug out where silt is currently partially blocking the pipes that connect to it.  The culverted section of the Hughenden Stream under Boss Lane also needs work done by Bucks County Council to make sure it is clear.

Bucks CC Select Committee Enquiry into Flooding in Buckinghamshire

On the 8th September 2015 HVDIG presented evidence to the Bucks County Council Select Committee Enquiry into Flooding in Buckinghamshire on the experiences of residents in Hughenden Valley in 2014 and the responses of the various Agencies involved. A copy of the written evidence submitted by HVDIG can be seen in the document titled ‘The Whites BCC Select Comitte Flooding’ on the Documents page.

In December 2015 a report and recommendations from this Committee were presented to Bucks County Council Cabinet.

Bucks County Council/DEFRA Project

Bucks County Council has received funding to undertake a feasibility study for flood alleviation in four areas of the county (Bishopstone, Monks Risborough, Saunderton, Hughenden Valley), as part of the “Small Schemes Pathfinder” fund created by Defra. This funding pot was created by Defra in order to encourage “innovative” schemes that serve smaller, disparate communities to be packaged together, to make the appraisal process more efficient and make it  easier for them to enter the government capital investment programme. Bucks County Council’s bid was one out of 6 projects to be funded out of 23 applicants.

The innovative approaches Bucks County Council proposed are a combination of:

a) Upstream natural flood management with techniques for slowing down flows across farm or open land and storage of water using low bunds and scrapes.

b) Temporary defences to attenuate water during a flood and pumping water away to less flood risk areas in situations. To be used in areas where more permanent schemes may not be financially viable.

c) Provide frontline flood response resources and equipment at the Parish and Town Council level by developing a realistic and site-specific assessment of need as well as for existing Flood Action Groups.

The idea is that once the feasibility projects are complete, local authorities will report on their findings and will then have the opportunity to apply for funding from the Government’s £2.3bn six year flood defence programme. The results from these trials will be shared with other local authorities and allow them to use similar approaches when developing schemes which benefit small communities.

HVDIG attended a meeting with Bucks CC and their appointed consultants Atkins in December 2015. Atkins has been commissioned to produce a hydrological model of the area. We expressed interest in any simulations from the model regarding the Hughenden Stream course along Boss Lane with the issues there and also on surface water from flash flood/storm events at Valley Road/Coombe Lane, Trees Road, Orchard Close, The Harrow and the Warrendene Road crossroads.

Bucks CC hope to have results of the modelling work commissioned from Atkins on the groundwater/surface water conditions in the Hughenden Valley catchment area ready for presentation to an HVDIG meeting in mid-February 2016 where potential future actions for Hughenden Valley, that Bucks CC could seek DEFRA funding for, can be discussed. We can also discuss how to take forward constructing a Flood Resilience Plan for Hughenden Valley and how it might fit with overall Resilience Planning of Hughenden Parish Council.

Introduction to the HVDIG Blog

In this introductory post, I want to outline the background to the HVDIG’s formation and its achievements since its inception a little over a year ago.

The sewage flooding in early 2014 affected residents in Valley Road between the Surgery and Coombe Lane. At the time, the initial response from Thames Water was poor and the help offered was much less than when similar flooding happened in 2000, specifically only an offer to clean up after the flooding had subsided.

When the problems were happening, like-minded residents got together to swap understanding and stories. This progressed to sharing resources and assisting each other with small working parties to shift sand bags and provide other help. We also coordinated with letters, emails and telephone calls to ensure that pressure was maintained on Thames Water to do their duty.

David White of Leaside took a lead role in coordinating action and was instrumental in bringing the group to life. During the early stages, much outside help was received and we want to particularly thank David Lidington MP, Dave Carroll – Bucks County Councillor, John Gladwin – Chiltern District Councillor and Allen Beechey – Chiltern Chalkstreams Officer. We also need to thank the HV Residents Association and others in the valley for their support.

So what has been achieved through the auspices of the HVDIG since last summer?

  • Worked with Agencies to drive actions on:
  • Clearance of blockages, rootballs in sewer network
  • Camera surveys to check sewage piping infrastructure in key areas
  • Checking of and repairs to leaking inspection pits
  • Sealing of sewer lids to prevent surface water ingress to sewage system
  • Introduction of pumping systems by Surgery and in Boss Lane to pump into the Hughenden Stream in order to reduce pressure in the sewage system
  • Checking and clearance of road drains/gullies and open ditches to reduce road flooding during downpours  
  • All Agency meetings have been introduced to formalise the relationships and communication between the affected parties.

What of the future?

Undoubtedly, the establishment of regular meetings with the Agencies, albeit only once or twice a year, has led to much improved relationships and a better understanding of how to deal with the Valley’s flooding issues.

The key result of all this activity is that Hughenden Valley is now recognised as an area at risk and in need of special support when floods threaten. The Agencies have put in place systems to ensure that they respond effectively when Hughenden Valley residents raise the alert.

Most satisfying of all is the decision taken by Thames Water to place on standby a mini sewage treatment plant, which is reserved for Hughenden Valley’s use. This system will be installed in the Valley probably near the Surgery if and when the sewage reaches an overload point again. 

What is important is that residents continue to be vigilant and to alert the authorities when we see or experience issues that require action. Please let us at the DIG know at the same time so we can work with you and also disseminate the news using the blog, emails etc.

You can post a comment or question to the Blog by clicking on the Comments link.