Protecting the River Avon in Bath

Our £1.3 million project in the east of Bath is helping to safeguard local homes and businesses from flooding by easing pressure on the sewer system.

Understanding the problem

Wessex Water is committed to completely eliminating the discharge of untreated sewage, starting with storm overflows that discharge most frequently and those that have any environmental impact.

Designed as a relief valve to protect homes from flooding, currently, if there is too much rainfall in the system, the overflow automatically discharges into watercourses.

The overflow near Bath RFC’s rugby ground just off London Road in Lambridge was one such location and had been identified as one of the 13 most frequently discharging throughout our region.

Protecting River Avon in Bath
A new below-ground storm tank, capable of holding 125,000 litres of storm water, has been installed within the car park of Bath RFC’s rugby ground at Lambridge, Bath.

What impact will the new tank have?

Our five-month project, taking place within the car park of the rugby ground and completed in December 2023, will help to cut the number of automatic operations of this nearby storm overflow into the nearby River Avon by around three-quarters.

Our team built the tank, which is capable of holding more than 170,000 litres of excess water, below ground within the car park of the rugby club, removing more than 1800 tonnes of soil during the project.

Expected to help cut discharges by up to three-quarters, it will help prevent flooding by hosting increased flows from combined sewers, carrying both wastewater from homes and businesses and rain run-off from buildings and surfaces, during periods of heavy downpours.

The tank then gradually returns the water to the sewer system for onward travel to a water recycling centre to be treated and safely returned to the environment.

Working with the community

As well as keeping nearby Lambridge residents informed about this project, we worked closely with Bath RFC to ensure they could still use their rugby ground during the construction work.

It follows earlier environmental protection work carried out by Wessex Water in the last decade, when new equipment was installed at nearby Kensington Meadows, within the car park of supermarket Morrisons further down London Road, to improve the screening of wastewater from a nearby storm storage tank.

How else are we tackling storm overflows?

The project was one of 13 investment schemes, we are prioritising between now and 2025 as the company invests £3 million a month to tackle the overflows in the region that have previously discharged most frequently.

We are also tackling storm overflows in other ways before 2025, including upgrading sewage treatment methods to increase capacity at 42 of our water recycling centres, including introducing more nature-based and low-carbon treatment methods such as reedbeds and wetlands.

Beefed-up investigation and monitoring of overflows in the region, as well as an extensive programme of sewer relining to help keep wastewater within the system and prevent infiltration of groundwater that can lead to flooding, is also continuing.

In total, nearly 100 improvement projects relating to the discharge of untreated water are being completed in our region between 2020-25, part of a £3 million a month investment to reduce the number of hours storm overflows operate for by around 25 per cent.

But we’re looking to go much further – continuing to tackle overflows affordably and sustainably, using a variety of solutions to support the environment around us.

We have unveiled proposals to invest a record £400 million towards the goal of reducing overflow operation in its next five-year investment period between 2025 and 2030, subject to approval by industry regulators.