What you should NOT put into the drains or down the loo

 

Fat poured down drains causes fatbergs, solid blockages in the sewers.

Many other things are put down the drains which shouldn’t be and again cause blockages with potential sewer overflow. Such things include wet wipes, tampons, nappies, tights and cotton buds  – none of these should be flushed down the loo, they should go into a bathroom bin.

There’s a pdf leaflet with more detail (but alternate pages are upside down as it’s designed to be printed into a foldable leaflet).

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Maintenance and wildlife

We met with the Environment Agency (EA) and Jeremy Biggs of the Freshwater Habitats Trust (FHT) today.

We talked about articulating an environmental vision for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (the Scheme) which brings together the various initiatives which are planned and how these will be managed and maintained. This included possible bodies/corporate structures that might be involved in overseeing maintenance in the long-term, to deliver both flood risk reduction and benefits for wildlife. We are working towards a preferred option for the future management arrangements.

FHT is hoping to facilitate community involvement in the conservation of freshwater habitats within the Scheme area – for example by employing someone to liaise with local people, including schools, so they can be involved in wildlife science in the floodplain. Part of the funding has been secured by a generous offer of funding from Thames Water, and FHT and EA will now approach other bodies together.

OFA is about to send letters asking local businesses to contribute funding to help close the small funding gap that remains for the Scheme.

Our “2016” Annual Public Meeting – in Feb 2017

We hold an Annual Public Meeting, which has been in November up to now. This makes it close to the annual Oxford Area Flood Partnership meeting and the two have increasingly overlapped in content. We decided then that our “2016” meeting would be better held later. It will be on Wednesday 22 February 2017 at 7pm for 7.30. The venue as before, the Demos’ Club on Osney Island, Oxford. We will have speakers from the Environment Agency (on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme), Thames Water (on their sewer survey) and Network Rail (on their track raising, waterway clearance and culvert installation). Everybody is very welcome.

Annual Public Meeting 2015

Our Annual Public Meeting on 19 November was well attended – we were delighted to welcome many members of the public, local councillors, representatives of all the local flood agencies, an Oxford University researcher and Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East. Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, and Rodney Rose, Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, sent their apologies.

Adrian Porter began the evening by setting out our three key current objectives:

  • support for the proposed multi-partner Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (Oxford FAS)
  • maintenance of existing waterways
  • that as and when the Oxford FAS happens, maintenance should be properly provided for from the start.

He went on to give an overview of the past year including our recent boat trip, with the Environment Agency, which identified necessary maintenance on Weirs Mill Stream: this work is being planned and funding being sought. John Mastroddi provided detail on the clearance under Munday’s bridge, which completes the project begun in 2013. Impending planning applications at Seacourt P&R and Oxford Four Pillars Hotel, both firmly in the floodplain, are on our radar.

Nick Hills, our Treasurer, told us that we had £346 in the bank, enough for several years at the present rate of spending! Nevertheless, being the good treasurer he is, he asked people to leave any donations as they left: this raised a very generous £110. Nick set out some of the things we’d been pleased to see in the year: among those not referred to in more detail later on were the permanent pipe under the Botley Road to allow pumping across the road without disruption to traffic (County and City Councils), Waitrose’s use of SUDS at their new shop and the successful public events for OFAS during the summer.

He explained how we support OFAS in principle and are contributing to the process along with the other partners – but always reserving the right to be a ‘critical friend’.

The first of our guest speakers, Joanna Grew from Network Rail, gave an account of their proposed Hinksey Flood Alleviation Scheme: this includes the clearing of culverts at Coldharbour (for which we have been pushing for some time), track raising and installation of new culverts. More detail can be seen in Joanna’s presentation downloadable here. You can download a leaflet about the scheme here.

James Playfair explained the progress of Thames Water’s ongoing sewer survey across Oxford, the Oxford Catchment Study. This is about to enter its second year: already some issues have been resolved including significant improvements to the pumps at Littlemore Pumping Station. The presentation can be downloaded here.

Last but not least Emma Formoy from the Environment Agency gave the meeting an up-to-date account of the Oxford FAS; Emma mentioned the possible wider benefits of the scheme, including for wildlife, and the crucial importance of rigorous modelling. More detail in the presentation downloadable here: this includes dates of the next round of Public Events in January 2016 when a consultation on the route options for the scheme will begin. These can be also seen in the Oxford FAS Newsletter – November 2015, perhaps more easily. In parallel with these events, people will be able to view these proposed options and partake in the consultation online.

Apart from these individual achievements and plans, what is remarkable, and heartening, is the considerable cooperation, for example sharing of modelling data, between these three agencies – i.e. they talk to each other! As one of us commented later, we have come a very long way since 2007. We are grateful to our guests for coming to talk and for all the work their organisations are doing. The sum (assuming they all reach fruition) will give Oxford a better, and more secure and sustainable, future.

Nick Hills presented Steve Smith, Engineer with Oxford City Council, with our Flood Star award for this year. This is in recognition and thanks for Steve’s sterling work on many flood schemes and smaller works over the years, as well as co-ordinating the Oxford Area Flood Partnership.

Peter Rawcliffe spoke about OFA’s suggestion for maintaining Oxford FAS: as this is to be largely a ‘natural’ channel it will be subject to inevitable deterioration – so providing both a problem and an opportunity. OFA proposes that a trust be established, in perpetuity, to manage for both flood alleviation and wildlife. Trustees could be drawn from the several stakeholders – landowners, local authorities, Environment Agency, academics and wildlife bodies – to name just a few. We believe this is a practical way to make the most of what the scheme offers Oxford and its residents and visitors. This 7km channel will be ever more essential to Oxford if climate change develops as predicted. Each km may cost £18 million to build. We need to treasure it: in our view a local trust with local accountability, and autonomy to manage as it sees fit, fits the bill.

Simon Collings discussed modelling: as mentioned above this is absolutely vital to developing the case for OFAS – both to be as sure as humanly possible that it will work and equally importantly that no one downstream will be disadvantaged. We recently attended a meeting at the School of Geography, Oxford University: Simon explained some of the potential pitfalls of modelling that we had learned of there, and suggested that community review of the OFAS modelling (assisted by expert modellers) be included in the scrutiny process. This in addition to review by academic modeller(s) which is already under discussion for the scheme and which we strongly support.

We thank those who attended for their support and we thank our visiting speakers for helping to make the meeting a success. Our thanks too to the West Oxford Democrats Club for generously allowing us to use their hall once again.

Notice of our Annual Public Meeting – next Thursday, November 19th

Oxford Flood Alliance logoANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING:

THURSDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2015

At The Democrats, Osney Island, 7.30 pm. Entrance at the north end of East Street.
Doors open from 7.00 pm.

EVERYONE VERY WELCOME –

YOUR CHANCE TO HEAR THE LATEST FROM

Network Rail on their plans to clear blocked culverts under the railway north of Redbridge.

Environment Agency on the multi-million pound Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) (Western Conveyance)

Thames Water on their major review of Oxford’s sewers.

ALSO

Hear our ideas on how Oxford FAS might be maintained not only for flood alleviation but also for wildlife.

Local planning applications, Weirs Mill Stream – and more.

South Hinksey sewer flooding

We held a meeting on 20 August 2015 to discuss this, especially in relation to possible temporary bunding of the village at time of river flooding.

Representatives from Thames Water (TW), the Environment Agency (EA) and of OFA from South Hinksey met. We had an interesting and fruitful discussion. These actions were agreed:

Thames Water (TW) to initiate a clean of the box culvert north of the village (by today, 27 Aug, this has already been ordered) and update us further on the work that has been, and still is being, done to considerably improve the pumping station at Littlemore.

TW will consider OFA’s suggestion of a sewer bypass for the village, as part of the ongoing Oxford Catchment Study.

Adrian Porter for OFA will fit a chain and handle to the existing non-return flap valve on the Manor Road surface water outlet to enable manual override if necessary.

The suggestion of a memorandum of understanding between the EA and TW, as to how sewer flooding would be dealt with at times of fluvial flooding, especially if a temporary bund were deployed, will be taken forward by the EA.

Many thanks to Thames Water and the Environment Agency for meeting with us and their very positive approach to the problems.

Working to reduce sewer flooding

Simon Collings represented OFA at the second meeting of Oxford City Council Scrutiny Panel on sewer flooding. Thames Water (TW) gave an update on where they are with a) Grandpont and b) the Oxford Catchment Study:

At Grandpont they have identified the most likely causes of sewer flooding and TW will now work with the City Council and residents to improve things. Local resident Brian Durham of OFA and SOFAG has been closely involved in this work.

On the Catchment Study they are engaged in two parallel processes:

  • a physical inspection of assets across the city – with any issues they identify being fixed as they go along (where the business case is obvious). This includes an inspection of both main trunk sewers.
  • customer surveys to help them understand where problems arise during a flood and how these manifest themselves.

So far they haven’t encountered anything which would suggest they need major capital investments, though they do plan to upgrade the pumps at Littlemore.

TW are talking to the Environment Agency (EA) team working on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, and the two modelling teams are going to share data and work together. By good luck the option development phases of both projects are working to similar timetables. EA will help TW understand how the river flooding affects the sewers, and TW will contribute to that work.

There will be one more meeting of the Scrutiny Panel in November/December but from then on formal reports will be given through the Oxford Area Flood Partnership, to avoid duplication of meetings.

Thames Water sewer flooding surveys under way

Heard from Thames Water today that their Oxford flooding questionnaire team has been out and about making visits and gathering information from householders – by the end of today all Oxford Phase 1 sites should have had at least one visit: three visits will be made in total to try to catch people that are out.  So far, 126 Sewer Flooding Questionnaires have been completed.

Phase 2, to follow, comprises Lower Wolvercote, North Hinksey Lane, South Hinksey and Upper Road.

Great that this is moving ahead – we look forward to hearing the results in due course.

Sewer survey starts soon

Oxford has had serious problems with sewer flooding for years, mainly at times of river flooding. Now Oxford has been chosen by Thames Water as one of only a handful of places in their region to have this investigated in detail, so they can decide how best to go about making real improvements.

Surveys of the sewers themselves have been under way for some time. Now, within the next two or three weeks, representatives from Thames Water will begin to knock on doors in areas of Oxford and environs that have experienced sewer flooding of house or garden, or toilets that will not flush during floods. The more that Thames Water know about the problems the better they will be able to solve them, so we urge everyone to give as much information as they can. This really is a big chance to see things improve.

We will post more details as they become available.