Raw sewage is still being discharged into the River Blackwater as the effects of heavy rainfall that blighted Aldershot Sewage Treatment Works at the turn of the year continues to be felt.
After an exceptional amount of rain in the months surrounding the Christmas period, storage tanks at the treatment works, off Holder Road, had to be emptied of untreated sewage due to an unmanageable quantity of water from sewers and drains arriving at the facility.
Despite the stormy weather being almost forgotten by many in the town, the treatment facility’s riverside location means it is still battling to cope with the high water levels that remain weeks later.
Thames Water, which owns the treatment works, confirmed that the most recent discharge was made last Friday, but said further discharges were unlikely unless more rain arrives.
“The team in Aldershot has been working very hard to get the site working normally and their efforts, combined with the recent dry spell, have meant discharges into the river have reduced this month,” a spokesman said.
“As we don’t get any more rain, we shouldn’t need to make further discharges.
“Groundwater levels are still very high in the area, so unfortunately it will only take a small amount of rain for the storm tanks to fill up again, but we will only discharge into the river as the very last resort.”
Normally, the storm tanks are able to store three times the amount of water usually collected during dry weather flow.
The excess water caused by heavy rainfall is stored in tanks to allow the normal treatment process to take place before clean water is released into the river.
The Environment Agency allows discharges from the tanks when they are full. The agency has warned that it could take weeks for groundwater levels to fall back to normal, and that the incoming flow to the sewage works were still so high that there were only certain periods during the day when water in the storage tanks could be released and treated.
The treatment works was itself flooded with sewage in early February due to the storms.
Borough councillor Keith Dibble said residents close to the sewage works were no longer being affected by strong smells from the discharges, but urged Thames Water to ensure similar problems could be avoided in future.
“We want to make sure they put the right investment in to make sure the system is fit for purpose,” he said.
“Everyone accepts that it was exceptional weather, but if faults or problems have been identified then it’s essential that Thames Water takes the necessary action.”