Councillors quiz officials on flooding concerns ahead of winter

Anglian Water quizzed by Fenland councillors

Rose Shisler (right), stakeholder engagement programme lead at Anglian Water, was one to be quizzed by councillors over water quality, drainage and flooding issues in Fenland. - Credit: Sophie Brammer/YouTube/FDC

Water quality, drainage and flooding issues in Fenland have been addressed by Anglian Water after concerns were raised by councillors. 

Cllr Gavin Booth of the Liberal Democrats had asked the question following a number of complaints received by customers of Anglian Water in the region. 

Rose Shisler, stakeholder engagement programme lead at Anglian Water, told FDC’s overview and scrutiny committee on Monday: “We have a priority for our infrastructure in terms of replacement based on risk to the area and to our consumers. 

“At Friday Bridge, for example, we have been refurbishing, cleaning and ensuring that our storage assets, by which I mean the water storage towers, are all fit for purpose and slightly changed the way that water moves around the system.” 

Ms Shisler told councillors that new water mains and refurbishment of older water mains has been completed in and around Wisbech, Wisbech St Mary and Parson Drove. 

But although there is no lifespan for certain features like water mains, Anglian Water are expecting to carry out maintenance work next month. 

Ms Shisler said: “Our assets are monitored remotely 24/7 and we keep a close eye on them, and based upon that we have a planned schedule of maintenance which we expect to be completed by the end of November.”   

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Independent councillor Bob Wicks is one who has received complaints from his constituents about the quality of water, as well as the colour of water. 

He asked Ms Shisler: “What guarantees do we have from Anglian Water that the quality of the water being delivered to people in the more remote wards is of a consistently good quality?”   

In response, Ms Shisler said residents with concerns should report them to Anglian Water. 

She also reassured Cllr Wicks that all water “is of the highest standards” and that water quality “has to be treated to an extremely high standard before we are allowed to send it to our customers.” 

Cllr Fred Yeulett, independent for March East, said work by the county’s highways department in the Christchurch area found gullies covered and damaged pipes which has caused flooding issues. 

Asked how Anglian Water can solve the problems, Ms Shisler said a first-time sewerage scheme was carried out in the area in 2009 and would be “willing to look at any investigation into that by the highways authority”. 

Cllr Yeulett also highlighted flooding and drainage issues in the Morton Avenue, Cavalry Drive and Upwell Road areas of March. 

Flooding in Morton Avenue March

Issues around flooding in the Morton Avenue area of March following the Christmas Eve floods last year (pictured) were raised by Fenland councillors. - Credit: Sophie Brammer

“I would like to know if Anglian Water are satisfied with their systems in East March and particularly those areas mentioned, and what they intend to do to help the council and their officers in pursuing these flooding problems?” Cllr Yeulett said. 

His concerns came after a meeting with FDC leader Cllr Chris Boden and Brian Heffernan, principal flood risk officer at Cambridgeshire County Council in the summer. 

Jonathan Glerum, regional flood manager for Anglian Water, said they are aware of the issues. 

“Following the winter flooding my operational colleagues have done a huge amount of work to undertake checks on our system and make sure that wherever possible the water is flowing freely,” Mr Glerum said. 

“My understanding is that these checks have not shown up anything untoward in Cavalry Drive, and, if it did, then it was cleared immediately.  

“I think the key issue which we are working on is the bungalows to the north of Morton Avenue which have suffered flooding for a number of years.” 

Works on a sewer at Morton Avenue have now been completed by Anglian Water to help reduce the flood risk to properties, which Mr Glerum hopes will make a difference to residents. 

“This will not be the ‘silver bullet’ for the flooding in Morton Avenue, and it’s clear from the flood maps that there is a defined ‘dip’ where those properties sit,” he said. 

“This is an area that will always be at risk (of flooding). 

“While we are open to explore what opportunities are available to make them more resilient to flooding, it will be encompassed as part of the work already undertaken as well as ongoing flood risk work being carried out across March.”