A £2 million project to boost the health of the River Avon running through Bradford on Avon has begun in a town centre park.
Wessex Water company is installing a huge overflow tank beneath the Victory Field to relieve pressure on the town’s sewer system.
The new storm storage tank will be built below ground in the north east corner of the park with the project expected to be completed by spring next year.
The aim is to improve the sewer network in the centre of the historic Wiltshire market town as part of a scheme to ensure the system can further cope with rapid increases in the flow of wastewater after heavy rainfall.
More than 160,000 litres of additional storage will be built below ground to prevent the combined sewer - that transfers both foul water from people’s homes and rainwater from downpipes and drains to a nearby water recycling centre for treatment - from overflowing to the River Avon when there is a heavy storm.
The new tank will allow the stored water to then be safely returned to the sewer system and onwards for treatment after the storm has receded.
Further improvements will see a mechanical screen installed to prevent any larger solid material from being discharged to the environment without having first gone through treatment.
The scheme is part of Wessex Water’s £3m-a-month investment to reduce how often storm overflows operate. They act as a relief valve to protect homes from flooding automatically discharging into rivers and the sea if there is too much rainfall in the system.
Up to 92 improvement projects are taking place across in Bath, Bristol, Dorset, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire before 2025 as part of the company’s Storm Overflows Improvement Plan.
Wessex Water project manager Alex Aulds said: “This project in Bradford on Avon adds further storage capacity to our system to cope with sudden increases in sewer flows caused by heavy rainfall and will step up the protection of the beautiful stretch of the River Avon running through west Wiltshire.
“Since 2000, we have invested £181 million upgrading more than 582 storm overflows and we’re spending £150m before the end of our current investment period in two years’ time to reduce their impact on the environment.
“This work will help to cut their hours of operation by up to a quarter by 2025 as part of our commitment to completely eliminate the discharge of untreated sewage approved by water industry regulators, that investment will triple to £9 million to minimise any environmental impact.
“This is an important step in our ongoing work to protect rivers such as the Avon and we recognise it is taking place within an important public space in Bradford on Avon.
“We’re making sure residents, businesses and organisations most directly affected by this project, as well as regular users of Victory Field, are kept updated about the work and also working with the youth football club with regard to alternative pitch access and other assistance.’’
A construction team will remove several sections of the stone wall at the top of Pound Lane to allow access for a temporary compound and pipework, with the wall to be fully reinstated after the project’s completion.
Access for vehicles to and from Pound Lane will be maintained during the construction, although space regularly used by parked cars will be unavailable at the top of the lane, while one of the regular youth football pitches on Victory Field closest to Frome Road is also affected by the compound.