Northumbrian Water has agreed to invest £350,000 to improve Prudhoe’s sewerage network after a long-running campaign by residents disgusted by flooding in the Castlefields estate.
For years, residents have complained that, during heavy rain, a manhole cover where Rolley Way meets Castlefields Drive lifts and spews filth on to the road, and even into some gardens.
After initially insisting remedial work would not be prioritised, the company has now come up with an improvement scheme, work on which will begin on March 7.
Phase one, which is expected to take about five weeks, will see 70 metres of sewer pipe being installed along a section of Castlefields Drive.
To accommodate the work, the road will be closed between 26 Castlefields Drive and the junction with Rolley Way from Monday, March 7, to Tuesday, April 5.
A diversion will be put in place and Northumbrian Water is working closely with Go North East on alternative bus routes.
From June to September, new storage pipes will be laid at land between Adderlane First School and Rolley Way, and a new section of pipe will be added at the source of the problem.
Northumbrian Water will write to residents nearer the time to give further details, but assurances have already been given that disruption will be kept to a minimum.
The plans follow a heated campaign by Castlefields residents, furious that nothing was being done, despite the regularity of the flooding, which many considered a health risk.
Among the most vocal was Peter Finn, who lobbied councillors, fellow residents and industry regulator Ofwat on the matter, accusing Northumbrian Water of being “inconsiderate, selfish and idiotic Fat Cats”.
Eventually, the company agreed to look into three possible solutions, which they presented to Prudhoe Town Council.
Two of these involved discharging excess flow into the river at Cockshot Dene woods, near a children’s play park, which led to further concerns about safety.
The option the company has settled on, by contrast, involves “on-line storage” of excessive flow, which can be released gradually following extreme weather.
Northumbrian Water’s project manager David Groark, told the most recent meeting of Prudhoe Town Council: “We could never say that this will solve the problem altogether.
“Whatever level of protection we put in, there is always the potential for a storm that is more severe than what it is designed for.
“This will be designed to protect against flooding of properties on a one-in-40 year level, which is at the high end in terms of what water companies provide.”
Coun. Eileen Burt said she was pleased the company had dealt with the matter quickly as it was “getting out of control”.
However, she expressed concern that the road closure would mean a diversion of several miles
Mr Groark replied: “It is not something we do lightly, but, although it is an estate road that is wider than most, it wouldn’t be wide enough for two-way traffic to get through.”
Town mayor Coun. Jennifer McGee said: “Locally, we would consider this a long diversion, but it’s not when compared to other places.
“In the scheme of things, I think it is acceptable.”
All dates are provisional and subject to change.
Customers who require more information, or have any special needs, should contact Northumbrian Water on (0845) 717 1100.
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