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Resident at Councillors Walk, Forres calls for Scottish Water and Moray Council to prevent further flooding

By Garry McCartney

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A drain struggling to cope at the junction of Councillor’s Walk and Thornhill Road.
A drain struggling to cope at the junction of Councillor’s Walk and Thornhill Road.

A COUNCILLORS Walk resident is calling for local surface water and sewage issues to be sorted out once and for all.

Like many home owners in frequently affected areas of Forres, Alan James was distressed on the night of Tuesday, July 27 when the town was hit by flash floods.

He said: “A drain cover was forced up by the quantity of escaping contaminated water and sewage running down Councillors Walk. I phoned the police to close off the street as vehicles weren’t slowing through the flood, splashing contaminated water onto walls and gardens. The smell of sewage was in the air for days.”

AJ Engineering’s managing director added: “The drains collect and transport surface water and raw sewage to the treatment works. If the drains are undersized and there is a risk of sewage release, there is a serious risk to health and wellbeing.”

Mr James related the recent incident to July, 1997 when Forres was flooded, due to overflow from the Mosset Burn and other circumstances including a dam bursting at Altyre and the Mosset being necked at the Brig Hotel.

He said: “The burn flooded a large area of west Forres including Councillors Walk. We were out of our house for six months, but some residents were out for a year or more. When the fire brigade came to pump out Councillors Walk they discovered water and sewage from elsewhere was escaping from a drain cover at the Thornhill Road junction, increasing the flood water. The crew pumped elsewhere to relieve that pressure. Once things started to drain away they returned and pumped to reduce the flood in Councillors Walk. After that, Scottish Water said they would survey the Councillors Walk combined sewer/surface water underground drain to ensure it was clean and clear. They found an obstruction at the Councillors Walk/Pilmuir Road junction and made repairs. They were also to look at the problem with the overflowing drain cover at the Councillors Walk/Thornhill Road junction.”

Water and sewage flowing into Wellside Court off Councillors Walk.
Water and sewage flowing into Wellside Court off Councillors Walk.

Since then, there have been numerous Councillors Walk floods during heavy rain where the combined drain has difficulty coping.

Mr James said: “The size of flooded area on the road is not helped by contaminated water and raw sewage from the drain cover at the Thornhill Road junction. These problems remain despite teams from Scottish Water making repairs.”

He has asked local Moray councillors George Alexander and Lorna Creswell to push for permanent solutions following the recent recurrence.

Cllr Creswell said: “It’s diabolical that after 1997 highlighting the drains couldn’t cope, we are still seeing floods there.”

Cllr Alexander said: “This is an issue for which Scottish Water has some responsibility. I have long been asking what progress is being made, but the responses do not give me much encouragement. Getting a direct response from Scottish Water proves difficult – I depend on the council flood team to keep me updated.”

In January 2016, Scottish Water announced they were carrying out a study of Forres area drainage, with a view to improving local sewers. The Integrated Catchment Study, undertaken in partnership with Moray Council, investigated the sewer catchment area, as required by Section 16 of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009. The studies look at the interaction between sewage networks, surface water drainage networks, watercourses and the sea. They were completed last June.

A Scottish water spokesperson said: “It was identified that there was relatively little interaction between the Scottish Water sewers and Moray Council drainage assets. In light of this, we continued with the drainage study to model our waste water network and assess the risk of sewer flooding. We’ve carried out more detailed surveys across both the Scottish Water and Moray Council drainage infrastructure, local properties and overland flow paths. The outputs will assist in the production of Moray Council’s Surface Water Management Plan. Any work to manage the risk of flooding will be agreed through that process.”

Following last month’s flash flood, the local authority’s flood team spokesperson confirmed they did not progress a surface water management plan for Forres in the first flood risk management cycle because they were waiting for results of modelling work from Scottish Water.

He said: “We now have this data and will begin analysing it along with data we hold on historic flooding to develop a plan. It will identify areas at risk, the flood mechanism in that area and potential actions that could be taken to mitigate flooding. Potential actions will be subject to an economic appraisal before any funding could be secured. The action to progress the plan will be included in the Flood Risk Management Plan for Cycle 2, which starts in 2022. If we are able to start the analysis of the data before then, we will do so.”

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