Pollution alert: Storm flows from Caterham Bourne through Beddington sewage treatment works

Following our recent report that record rainfall this winter has resulted in the reappearance of the Caterham Bourne, we’ve just received this information from the Environment Agency:

Because of the high ground water from the Caterham Bourne, ground water is being pumped into the foul sewer to relieve flooding issues in the Kenley and Purley area.  This is also to protect Sutton and East Surrey’s potable water treatment works at Kenley.

Because of this there has been an increase in water flowing into Beddington Sewage Treatment Works and the Works are running under storm conditions. This means that the water coming from the works is a mixture of final treated sewage and storm water.
This has been going on for a few days now and could last for a while. However, several partner organisations including the EA, Thames Water, local Councils, the Police and Fire Brigade are working to manage the situation as immediately and effectively as possible.

Needless to say, we are taking this situation very seriously, and will post updates here as we receive them.

Update 1 (2.30pm, Monday 24th Feb): the EA have informed us that “free ammonia” NH3 levels are currently very low in the lower river, and no environmental damage has been detected so far.  However, sludge which has been scoured from Beddington’s storm tanks may be getting into the river, and may look like shredded toilet paper or similar.

Update 2 (12pm, Tuesday 25th Feb): There is sewage debris, sludge and fungus being seen all along the river downstream of the effluent channel to at least Penwith Road.  Water is not being pumped to the foul sewer now but the amount of water entering the sewage treatment works is still high and is therefore still operating  under storm conditions.   Dissolved oxygen levels are low but not thought to be a cause for concern yet.

If you’re out on the river and notice offensive smells, unusual quantities of sanitary products, or fish or other wildlife in distress below Beddington STW, please phone them in to the usual EA hotline: 0800 80 70 60. Thank you!

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