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Author: Nic B

Sewage in our streams and Tamerton Creek

Combined Sewer Overflows are in the news again. Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are a necessary part of the existing sewerage system, preventing sewage from flooding homes and businesses.Here in Tamerton Foliot we have a number of them that pollute our streams and Tamerton Creek. CSOs themselves are simple underground stuctures with just a manhole to identify them. Most exist on the sewerage pipe system. We have some huge sewerage pipes around us that carry all the sewage from North Plymouth to the Ernesettle works. On their way down they have CSOs, and the hours they release raw sewage is listed annually by the Environment Agency. The outlets are of course visible where they discharge into streams etc. It is licensed for SW Water to do this and working closely with the Environment Agency, Event Duration Monitors (EDMs) are being installed across the network to provide a robust and consistent way of monitoring releases. CSOs can sometimes discharge through misuse of the system. Wet wipes make up more than 90 per cent of the material causing sewers to block. 

Here are five in the area
1. Southway Drive CSO – situated in the woods north of Southway Drive at What3Words = ///lowest.adjust.mining This is a large pipe about 40cms diameter. If trying to see it just get to the area and follow your nose!

2. Whitleigh Woods CSO is another huge 40cm pipe that last year discharged for several days. Its at What3Words = ///precautions.master.tubes This is on the stream about 80m downstream of the footbridge by Borrowdale Close.

3. Further downstream, sewerage wise, all the sewage from Tamerton Foliot is pumped up hill to the big pipe that runs behind Riverside Walk. Several times last year the pumping station overflowed. The discharge pipe for Tamerton Foliot Pumping Station CSO is at What3Words = ///unrealistic.jukebox.steps This is about 50m upstream from where the stream widens out into the creek.

4. As the big sewer progresses, it runs under the middle of the Holly Park area – here another large pipe carrying sewage from the lower part of Whitleigh joins it. At the bottom of Holly Park a pumping station picks up sewage from the lower houses. This pumping station has an overflow discharging direct into the Creek is Tamerton Close CSO at What3words = ///tops.glare.grapes. This one is just by the footpath below Tamerton Close.

5. Porsham lane is a beautiful peaceful area with a pretty stream, horses etc, but under the fields is large sewer loop, dealing with sewage from Roborough, Belliver and industrial estates. This system has a CSO Haysend Farm and last year it spilled 16 times. Its at what3words = ///native.switch.civic

The Conservation Society is concerned about this pollution and monitors the data reporting on it. We have a representative working with Plymouth River Keepers, part of the Westcountry Rivers Trust.

Tamerton Lake subject to days of raw sewage pollution

The Environment Agency has recently released a map showing where Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) have released sewage into water courses. Plymouth Live published it here

From this, we can see that a CSO behind Cheshire Drive last year had 13 spills and released sewage into the stream for an equivalent of 6 days. Tamerton Foliot Sewage Pumping Station on Station Road is also a CSO which had 32 spills releasing sewage for 71 hours.

These are licensed releases. In addition problems continue with the manole in Church Row Lane, and in the fields towards Coombe Lane.

Tamerton Foliot stream water quality published

For some months a resident in Riverside Walk has hosted at the bottom of their garden a water quality probe for Plymouth River Keepers.

The monthly results are here:

The probe takes a reading every 15 minutes on depth, temperature and conductivity. In particular, it is conductivity that of interest. Conductivity is a measure of the total dissolved solids within a watercourse. In the Tamerton Foliot catchment there is low natural dissolved solids, so as a general rule an increase in conductivity is likely to be human-related. An increase in conductivity could be due to a number of factors such as sewage entering the river, industrial or chemical discharge or farm run-off. 

Climate Change

The Council are seeking consultation on the Climate Emergency Planning Policy and Guidance which ends on the 21 April 2022 at 5pm. 

The Council will accept comments via:

All the documents can be seen here and there is a 20 minute video about it

Environment Agency wags finger at Tamerton Residents

Residents along Riverside Walk have received a letter from the Environment Agency pointing out that the Tamerton Foliot Stream is classified as a main river, and that activities near its bank need a Flood Risk Activity Permit. This includes altering, repairing any structure in, over or under the stream, such as gabion baskets, decking or other garden structures. Without this ‘you could be breaking the law.’

Lakeside Fields

A manhole in the fields below Lakeside has been overflowing

This manhole sits in the huge major trunk sewer that carries sewage from the north of Plymouth to Ernesettle Treatment Works.

Church Row Lane

This is looking up Church Row Lane – the manhole is lifted by sewage which flows down into the stream.

This has sadly been occurring in heavy rainfall. SWW are investigating and think it may be connected to the discharge from the Mayflower Treatment Works which joins the sewage system in Porsham Lane.