St Leonards flood: Southern Water's £5m project to 'prevent further sewer bursts'

Engineers in St Leonards are undertaking a major project which a water company hopes will prevent any future sewage leaks.

Southern Water said it is spending £5 million on the work to resolve the problem of recurring bursts on the Cinque Ports Way rising main, which was responsible for the major leak in Bulverhythe earlier this year.

Almost 20 homes and a businesses were affected after the leak affected Bulverhythe Road early on February 3. A pavement also collapsed. Engineers from Southern Water then closed off the road and footpaths.

Up to 50 tankers were used by Southern Water to transport wastewater for treatment, the water firm said.

It is also not the first time the area has flooded due to sewage leaks. On July 28, 2021 there was a major sewage leak at Bulverhythe.

Andrew Morris, high impact team lead at Southern Water, said: “Work is under way with a project which we believe will prevent future sewer bursts in the pipe from Hastings to Cinque Ports – and by using new technology, we won’t need to dig a trench the entire length. That means we hope to finish by early next year.

“We are pulling a special plastic liner through a pipe line parallel to the badly corroded existing sewer, effectively running a new pipe through an existing one. Flows will then be switched across to this new robust pipe and hopefully prevent future incidents.

“The pipes in this area were laid 40 or more years ago and are made of iron, which has corroded badly due to being close to the sea and chemicals formed by reactions in the wastewater.

“We’ve got 39,500km of wastewater network and 4,000km of rising mains like this one which is kept under pressure by pump - nearly all our problems are due to iron pipes. We’ve a steady programme of replacement but relining with plastic is a far less disruptive and quicker way of working.

“Whenever this pipe bursts we need to use 50 tankers to carry the 500 litres a second flows from Hastings to be treated so customers can continue using their facilities, which we know is hugely disruptive. We hope this project will give our customers confidence Southern Water is doing the right thing.”

Southern Water said the latest burst in February has now been fixed.

A clean-up operation is still ongoing in gardens and the surrounding area, the firm said.

Work on the car park is also due to be finished soon and repair work on footpaths will be carried out once the design is completed, Southern Water said.