IT’S the question many people are asking: Just how will our schools, roads, health centres and sewerage system cope with 4,000 new homes in Castle Point?
For roads, schools and health centres, developers can be made to stump up the cash needed to extend services for the influx of new people.
But can the sewerage system cope?
Bosses at Anglian Water insist it can. They believe they are well prepared for the planned housing boom in the borough – which could see 200 homes built a year between 2015 and 2031.
The water company is responsible for treating all foul sewage in the borough, as well as the pipes running underground which take away surface water from Essex County Council’s highways drains.
Worried residents have raised concerns about local infrastructure, such as the sewerage system.
Recent surface water flooding, caused by rain, on the A130 and other roads, has prompted many to ask how the sewers would cope with a rise in the number of new homes However, senior officials from Anglian Water claim there is ample capacity in the network to cope with new developments.
There are two sewage plants in the borough, which treat foul water from the borough’s 80,000 homes.
Legally, Anglian Water is permitted to discharge 2,461 tonnes of treated water every day from Benfleet Treatment Works, in Watlington Road.
However, in the past year the highest level recorded was 1,415 tonnes.
Similarly, Canvey Sewage Treatment Works, in Thames Road, is allowed to discharge 4,590 tonnes of treated water a day. Yet at its highest level last year only released 2,090 – less than half the permitted amount.
Simon Love, head of collection services, said: “We work on a basis that there can be no detriment to the services we provide to existing customers if a new development goes ahead.
“So if there needed to be reinforcement to the system, or a new sewer or treatment works built, a developer would have to contribute to that.
“But at the moment we are confident there is ample capacity in our network to serve the longterm growth in this region for the next decade at least.
“We have been working closely with Castle Point Council on its new local plan and will advise on planning applications when they come in.
“For example, with the Felstead Road development, we have been working with the developer since 2012 to assess which existing sewers the homes will have to be plumbed into.”
The firm is now awaiting approval from Ofwat for its new investment plan, covering 2015 to 2020.
The proposals include a £500,000 investment for a new rising main in Benfleet, and £500,000 on a new awareness campaign to educate people on what can and cannot be put down the plughole.
From 2015, the company has also pledged to spend £1billion every year on maintaining and improving its services.
Jonathan Glerum, flood risk manager at Anglian Water, said: “We take all growth very seriously and spend a great deal of time making sure the assets we have are managed properly.
“Although the population may increase the amount of foul water we are using, it is actually decreasing due to more ecofriendly washing machines and appliances, as well as metering systems that waste less water.”
Bosses claim although the present system can cope, the vast majority of blockages are caused by people putting non-biodegradable items down the drain.
In Essex last year, Anglian Water dealt with 7,791 sewer blockages, a whopping 7,550 caused by people putting “unflushable” items into the system.
On Canvey, there were 358 reported blockages in 2013 – and 352 were related to fats, oils, greases and unflushable items.
Six homes were flooded due to problems in the system or heavy rain.
On mainland Castle Point – covering Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley – there were 213 blockages in 2013, with only two homes flooded due to the system or heavy fain.
Alan Duncan, tactical support manager, said: “We have a real issue in Essex with people sending fats, oils and greases and unflushables down the drains.”