Disruptive works to repair a main sewer that runs along Ryde seafront, which have already cost £2.5million, won’t be completed in time for the peak summer season, according to Southern Water’s area manager who has been speaking exclusively to Island Echo this week.
The situation began back in January when a sinkhole was discovered on the footpath that runs along the edge of the beach at Appley. Work got underway to investigate the cause of the large hole, which then led engineers to discover what is suspected to be a collapse of the local sewer network.
As previously reported by Island Echo, tankers were initially brought in to transfer wastewater from the area whilst work began to install temporary bypass pipes, causing massive disruption to a large area of the seafront.
The main sewage pipe – located 10 meters underground – delivers the sewage from the whole of Ryde along the seafront to Appley pumping station, where it is then pushed on to the Sandown Treatment Works.
Questions and concerns have been raised by local businesses and residents about the length of time the work is taking to be completed. Now, almost 4 months in, Southern Water’s Area Manager for the Isle of Wight, Keith Herbert, says work is progressing but it’s unlikely that the area will be back to normal before the peak summer season.
“Firstly, id like to say that we are really sorry for all the disruption we have caused. We recognise this is a popular beach in a sensitive area which is why we are doing all we can to work as hard as we can to fix it and be out of peoples way as quickly as possible so they can enjoy the summer.
“The sewer that collapsed serves 27,000 properties so we can’t tell the people of Ryde, Binstead and Seaview not to flush their toilets or use their washing machines, so the first thing we had to do was overcome the amount of flow.
“That is about 900 l a second after a storm that’s about a ton of sewage every second that this pipe deals with. The second problem we are up against is the watery sand beneath the surface.
“As things stand, we have dug down to the pipe, and now we are trying to assess what the problem is, which we think is a collapse.”
Despite this, several measures have been introduced to allow those hoping to make the most of the warm weather to enjoy the area unhindered with deodorisers being installed to prevent bad smells.
Ideas to encourage visitors are also being discussed between Southern Water and the Isle of Wight Council, including possible solutions to the loss of parking caused by the temporary closure of Appley car park, with the potential for a Park and Ride service funded by the utility company being floated.
Southern Water has told Island Echo that while the works are costing £25,000 per week for the temporary pumping equipment alone, it will keep all services in place until engineers are fully satisfied that the repairs made are sufficient and complete.
On the subject of having the repairs finished by summer, Keith added:
“I want to manage expectations; I don’t think that its going to be possible for us. I think its some sort of statement of intent – this, and how it looks – gives the public reassurance how seriously we are taking it.”