Statement on Castle Hill sewage overflow

Yesterday morning (29th January 2024), Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, Dartford Borough Council Environmental Health, Henley Camland and local ward councillors met with Albion Water to raise the issue of the overflowing sewage tank in Platinum Jubilee Park, Castle Hill.

Two issues have been identified by Albion Water as contributing to the recurring blockage and overflow:

  1. Extensive surface water and debris making its way to the pipe system via drains.
  2. Blockage within the pipes caused by materials and waste not suitable for the system (wet wipes, waste, sanitary products and debris).

Albion Water has installed an over-pump in the tank to reduce the risk of further overflow. The over-pump is now in full operation, and Albion Water has committed to doing everything possible to minimise disruption and reduce potential for further spills.

Engineers are working extensively to explore wider long-term solutions to resolve the issue with support from Henley Camland.

What are the long-term solutions?

Albion Water has committed to providing Ebbsfleet Development Corporation with a progress update by the end of the week (2nd February 2024) which outlines their long-term approach to resolving the issue.

From Monday 5th February, Albion Water and Ebbsfleet Development Corporation will have weekly progress updates until the issue is fully resolved. Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, in turn, will provide wider stakeholders and residents of progress updates. These updates will be available on the Ebbsfleet Garden City and Castle Hill Facebook pages, and on the Ebbsfleet Garden City website.

Albion Water has committed to:

  • Conduct a series of extensive investigations into the design of the system to identify points of failure.
  • Identify opportunity to improve network resilience and communicate a plan of action to stakeholders/
  • Conduct further deep cleans of the pipework within the treatment process.

Albion Water are working with the Environment Agency to report their progress on the matter. For any ongoing or emergency issues, please ensure you call Albion Water: 0800 917 5819.

2nd February Statement Update:

Albion Water has provided a further update on remedial and cleaning works that have taken place this week.

Since the original update, significant servicing, investigations and cleaning have begun. The removal of rag (fibrous materials that don’t break down after being flushed down plumbing) across the system has shown signs of improvement to the flow of water. Pipework cleans have further mitigated the risk of further blockages.

From next week, further investigations to understand the surface water ingress and pinch points issues across Castle Hill system will begin. A report on this will be provided to EDC shortly after. Decontamination of the lake is scheduled for when water is running at an optimal flow.

A further update to residents will be provided in due course.

15th February Statement Update:

Following on from our previous statement of 2nd February 2024 Ebbsfleet Development Corporation has continued to liaise with Albion Water, site owners Henley Camland, and other public agencies with relevant responsibilities to ensure that the issues with the Castle Hill wastewater treatment plant are resolved.  We are providing this statement  to ensure residents remain updated throughout

Albion Water, who have responsibility for managing the on-site waste treatment works at Castle Hill, have carried out a number of remedial actions and improvements to the site which has resulted in the plant now running independently.  Albion have confirmed that, as a result of the measures taken, they do not envisage any further issues resulting from plant performance.

These remedial actions have included full overhaul and maintenance of all process stages of the plant which have included pumps and motor refurbishments, valve replacements and deep cleans of tanks.  

These actions have necessitated the removal of a significant volume of wet wipes, rags, and other items that sewage treatment works are not designed to deal with. 

It is likely that these materials have been the main cause of the issues encountered, as they have caused pumps and systems to block.  

Moving forward, Albion Water have committed to:

  • Increase maintenance schedules over the next 12 months, at their cost, over specification standards and requirements, to ensure that the plant runs more efficiently. 
  • Run a ‘stop the block’ campaign to inform residents about the consequences of flushing wipes and other inappropriate materials down household toilets. 
  • Host an ‘open day’ where Albion will offer a limited number of spaces to residents for a tour of the plant for education purposes. 

Albion Water, Henley Camland and Ebbsfleet Development Corporation will continue to liaise regularly in the coming weeks to ensure efficient plant performance continues.

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