Sewage Update 2 – And they think it’s all over

Just when you think it’s all done and a line drawn under it:

You see a message from Redrow stating that there was no blockage.

Excuse me! But I shall vigorously contend my point here.

From the drainage diagram supplied during conveyancing:


The manhole that overflowed is identified as FW70 on the diagram. The key numbers are CL which is the Manhole Cover Level at 51.63m and IL, the Invert Level is 48.51m where the outflow from this manhole is. That is a difference of 3.1m which must have filled with liquid for it to overflow. I’m no particular drainage or building expert, but I would strongly suspect this would indicate the drain was blocked beyond this point.

Notes, the IL BD number indicate this is a backdrop manhole with an inflow higher up the chamber at 50.10m.

Also interesting that the cover level where it was overflowing is higher than the Finished Floor Level of some of the plots, so think they might have had serious problems if they had tried to use their toilets or drains.

The other supporting statement for a blockage would be that after the initial flow was stopped at around 1:40pm . Our security camera appears to show a tanker from RMS Waste arrived at around 3:15pm. It was onsite for about an hour and a half with a team pumping out the manhole and rodding down the hole.

The manhole looks to be about 600mm x 600mm, so volume wise 0.6 x 0.6 x 3.1 = 1.1 cubic metres = over 1 metric tonne of liquid, which didn’t drain in 3 hours, flow rate = zero. It doesn’t take a civil engineer to work out that equals BLOCKED!

We’ve accepted all along that drains do get blocked and are probably at a higher risk on an active construction site. In fairness, the initial problem was dealt with swiftly and cleared in relatively short order of a few hours. But to have your version of the incident dismissed is more than just a bit irritating.

Sewage Update – Resolved

It has been a busy last few days, with some heated moments trying to get the road cleaned up from the sewage overflow.

The position on Saturday afternoon was that it couldn’t/wouldn’t  be disinfected. Thankfully by Monday morning there was a change of heart as reported by the Hamphire Chronicle here and the decision was made to disinfect the road.

We’ve also had the regional MD of Redrow sitting on our sofa, listening and believe genuinely trying to find out what had happened, gone wrong or right and what could be learnt.

A big thank you to the Hampshire Chronicle, Councillor Dominic Hiscock, and our MP Steve Brine for all their help in getting the right action in the end.

Have to admit the councillor and MP have gone some way to our restoring faith and trust in politicians.


What’s that smell?!

A foul smell filled the air over Abbotts Walk, Winchester yesterday.

Looking out, the problem was evident:

Sewage Flood
Sewage Flood

That’s the foul water (sewage) drain flooding up through the manhole, across the street and down Lea View. The house drains and toilets were also starting to make gurgling noises and bubble up, presumably trapped air.

So a trip up to the Sales office to notify them and get site on to the case. And just to be sure, notified Southern Water, however their response was that the drains had not been adopted by them yet and so were still the responsibility of Redrow. Their and other water companies normal procedures would be to aim to attend and clear the blockage within 12 hours then clear up and disinfect the area within 24  hours.

So cue a small flurry of activity. The trigger was identified as a contractor drilling through a water main somewhere else on site. With this stopped, most of the contaminated water drained down the road gullys to the infiltration basin that deals with the sites surface water, i.e. goes in to the groundwater by the River Itchen.

Can’t say i’m sure: a) how the leaking water from the main was entering the foul water system (that should be mostly sealed) and b) why it was overwhelming a 150mm drain?

The drain itself was blocked, and possibly had been for some time. So a few hours later a tanker arrived to pump out the drain and clear it. So well done Redrow on clearing the drain, but:

During the incident and after, the affected area was not cordoned off, or any barriers erected, signage or information posted. Contractors were driving and walking through standing pools of contaminated water spreading it around the development. Unwitting parents were pushing childrens buggies through and by early evening kids were riding the bicycles in the area. If Norovirus hits North Winchester, we’ll know where it started!

A road sweeper was sent round the morning, but didn’t disinfect the area and only swept the middle of the road, even missing the main leak area due to a parked contractor vehicle that was unaware.

Trying to get anyone in to action on a Friday afternoon/evening is always an uphill task, so who could deal with it or lodge a complaint with:

  • Redrow Site:-  Were doing thing their way in their time.
  • Redrow Emergency Customer Services Number :- Site should be dealing with it
  • Winchester Council :- Go to Hampshire County Council
  • Hampshire County Council :- Go to the Water board – Southern Water, Environemnt Agency
  • Environment Agency :- concerned only with surface water flow/contamination to the river.
  • Southern Water :- The drains aren’t adopted, so go to the developer.

So it ‘appears’ to be a circle with no accountability required. Having looked a bit further, I actually believe it’s Winchester City Council who have the statutory duty through its Environmental Health department to protect the public health and should have picked this up.

Another avenue has been our local Councillor, Dominic Hiscock, who we are grateful to. He came round on Saturday morning to find out more and I believe got equally frustrated by the ‘circle’ and lack of accountability. He does seem like a genuine and hard working councillor with an interest for residents, we might even vote for him 🙂

So no conclusion yet, and not sure where to go next on this one.

High Speed Broadband

I posted a while back on the Hampshire County Councils High Speed Broadband improvement programme.

I’ve been in touch with them, and long and short is that they’re not planning on including Abbotts Walk within their programme of improvement. Instead, pushing BT to upgrade the cabinets based on commercial demand as it’s a new development.

Waiting to hear BT’s response via HCC.