July 24 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Bad weather has meant recycled sewage - used as fertiliser -- is not leaving a March treatment centre so quickly and the back log is creating a smelly summer for nearby residents.
David Deptford’s family has farmed the area for many years but he insists the smell coming from the treatment works is the worst he’s ever experienced.
Mr Deptford runs nearby Sovereign Stables and last weekend entertained 200 guests to a two day horse riding event and says nearly all the visitors complained to him of the smell.
Visible from the banks of the 20ft river near Creek Fen, the sewage arrives daily and is being left exposed in a massive stock pile to the side of the March sewage plant. A footpath is also being used as an overflow storage area.
Councillor Rob Skoulding, the deputy mayor of March, was among those to visit the plant with Mr Deptford this week.
“I had to shower and wash my clothes straight away after being there for just a short while, it’s disgusting,” he said. “I have reported it to environmental health today.”
And Councillor Jan French, chairman of Fenland Council overview and scrutiny committee, said: “What are we a dumping ground now? I think my committee might be looking at this one. Any idea who has authorised this and what are the benefits to Fenland?”
But Anglian Water who run the plant say little has changed – except for the fact bad weather has meant recycled sewage hasn’t been bought up so quickly by farmers.
A spokesman said: “We are very sorry for the recent bad smells from our March Water Recycling Centre.
“This has been caused by the amount of ‘cake’ we have to store at the site this week.
“Cake is the organic solid matter from sewage which is treated and processed to turn it into a number of different fertiliser products. These are commonly sold to farmers for use on agricultural land.
“March is one of our sites that we use to store and treat this material before it’s used in agriculture. Unfortunately because of the heavy rain across the whole of the region last weekend, we’ve not been able to get as much of it onto fields as we would normally. We’re sorry that storing this larger quantity on site has caused odours affecting Mr Deptford.
“We would ask customers to get in touch with us if they notice increased odours so that we can track it properly. It’s important we know the date, time and place where they noticed the issue so that we can use this information to inform our operations.
“From the end of the month we expect storage levels to return to normal, with only occasional storage at the site which will significantly reduce the likelihood of this recent problem.”
Mr Deptford said: “They are bringing dry sewage here from Kings Lynn and Essex. I know that for definite since my brother, who farms the land, got telephoned and asked if he wanted to buy some of the stuff for our land.”
Mr Deptford said lorries were arriving continuously “and the smell is there every single day. Depending on the wind it’s worse some days than others.”
He believes other sewage treatment plants are sending it to March “because of the smell problems where it was previously treated. I reckon they think the Fens is gullible and we can have it.”
“I don’t think this is acceptable.”
* Records kept at March Museum show the history of treatment waste in the town and there is a reference to 1949 when cholera killed 141 people locally and drew national attention to the town’s lack of sanitation.
March was found to be the worst place in the country and drastic action was required to provide fresh water, drainage, clean streets and privies (toilets) for everyone. The night cart used to tour the town emptying the privy buckets and was still operating until the 1960s.