Thames Water has announced it is re-engineering one of its sewer networks in order to help it prepare for “unprecedented” population growth over the next 15 years.
With around 6,000 proposed homes due to be built across multiple developments in Oxfordshire, Wantage and Grove’s population could increase by 75 per cent.
This would, according to Thames, “greatly exceed” the capacity of the main sewer which runs through Wantage town centre.
In response to this, the water company is working with Persimmon Homes on a development consisting of 2,500 properties and will build a new pumping station and sewer to divert wastewater flows to the north-west of the town.
Thames says its approach will negate the need to dig up the town centre, preventing road closures and freeing up space in the old sewer for future developments.
James Hern, a Thames Water engineer, said: “We’re now working smarter, joining more data together, and clustering multiple developments over a longer time frame.
“This will help meet the needs of our developers and customers, and protect the environment from sewer flooding.”
Mark Yates, a Thames Water project manager, said: “Without a rethink, this would potentially mean a huge one-off scheme to upgrade the sewer or repeatedly returning over the years to increase its capacity.
“Either solution would entail enormous disruption to residents, shop-owners and motorists.
“As well as avoiding chronic disruption in Wantage town centre, we’ve come up with a solution that has reduced the risk of sewer flooding as wastewater flows increase over time.
“In addition, we’ve saved a significant amount on what it would have cost to increase the size of our trunk sewer and are providing a major benefit for developers by providing capacity ahead of when they need it.”
Thames says due to the success of this project, it has taken a more “holistic” view of other wastewater needs for new developments.
It has already identified more than £10 million of cost savings across 50 schemes.
Thames said as part of its £11.7 billion business plan for 2020-25, it has pledged to spend £2.1 billion on increasing resilience and reducing pollutions by 18 per cent by 2025.
The company is required to resubmit its business plan to Ofwat by 1 April after the regulator placed Thames in the significant scrutiny category when it published its initial assessment of the proposals.