Sewage spillage a health hazard

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The extreme weather which impacted on Rye on 8th January when we received 15mm of rain, causing flooding in an area of Strand Quay, with localized flooding (ponding) at other known risk locations in the town, has brought considerable concern to the members of the Rye Emergency Action Team (REACT).

Their concern arises from the fact that the seepage of sewage from the sewage system, mixing with excess surface water entering the system, is causing a potential health hazard.

This toxic mix known by water engineers as “hydraulic overload” is what actually happened at the junction of Winchester Road and Strand Quay on that date.

Whilst Southern Water contractors have worked on this site in the last 12 months the fault has not been rectified. Southern Water dismissed a report of the incident by saying “Southern Water found no defects with its sewer networks, and believe the issue is due to increased level in ground water which had overloaded the system”. Col Anthony Kimber, Chairman of REACT, e-mailed a strongly worded reply to Southern Water accompanied with photographic evidence of the sewage seepage, insisting that a solution must be found.

A dialogue with one of the company’s engineers in the hope this problem can be rectified is being sought. It is well known that the sewage system in Rye is fragile, with many areas in danger of collapsing as happened some years ago in Udimore Road. That incident was rectified with the laying of new sewer pipes.

It has now become more urgent, and the areas known to REACT which are mostly at risk need to be investigated and rectified. The spillage of raw sewage is a major health hazard and people should stay well away from any spillage they see. If any spillage is noticed the Town Council should be immediately notified.

Another thing is, referring to the sewage seepage problem again, should we not expect building inspectors to ensure any new building development has sufficient infrastructure in place to take account of the additional load for sewage outflow? Only recently there was a report from a resident of Lion Street of raw sewage flowing down the street outside the George in Rye Hotel. It might be said no account was taken of the enlargement of the hotel at the time. The same can be said for any new housing development such as Valley Park. In the ideal world sewage outflow should be separated from surface water outflow, but that is unlikely to happen due to the additional cost that would entail. I think it would be agreed that building inspectors should sharpen up their act.

We are seeing several new developments rising from the ashes in Rye, but there is as always some controversy.

Take the Central Garage site in Cinque Ports Street. The original plans showed an inspection alley way between the Party Wall and the South Wall of the Studio flat – a gap of 740cm.

This provided space for the old wall to be inspected, and any required pointing to be undertaken. But no, the developers took it upon themselves to construct a new single brick wall alongside the old wall without seeking prior permission from the planners for this amendment to the original plan. Retrospective permission is being sought. There is now left an untidy gap of 27cm where weeds will grow and possibly cause the deterioration of both walls.

There was further flouting of the original planning permission by altering the pitch of the Studio Flat roof. One wonders, as the resident of 1, Meryon Court said, “Where does that place the authority of the planning procedure?” One also has to wonder whether the building inspectors are doing there job?

When I had a small extension built on my house some years ago the building inspector was round many times checking on the building works and making sure everything was in accordance with the plans.

One development I believe cannot be faulted, and that is the wonderful new Kino Cinema in Rye. Now the Cinema has been built and the doors opened for business it will attract not only the many local cinema goers, but also attract more visitors to Rye who will have an additional experience when here.

The dedication of a few people who had the vision three years ago to see what was needed, and fought hard for the old site from being sold off by Hastings College for housing needs, should be applauded.

Will the next possible developments in the town be the Travel Lodge which has its sight on coming to Rye, or the Lower Schools site being used for much needed additional space for Rye Academy?

Watch this space!