Northumbrian Water – 26th July 2016

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Springwell Resident’s Association Meeting – Tuesday 26 July 2016
Northumbrian Water presentation and answers to questions

Proposed Storage Reservoir at Springwell Village

The use of water varies throughout the day with large peaks of use in the morning and early evening with very low demand during the night. The treatment works producing our drinking water operate best at steady conditions so attempting to match the daily pattern of water use could affect the water quality.

Drinking water is stored in covered reservoirs within the network to smooth the daily variation in water use by allowing the water level in the reservoir to rise and fall. This allows the treatment works to operate in steady conditions to protect the quality of the drinking water. The storage also enables water to continue to be available in the event of a short term problem such as a burst in pipework between the treatment works and the reservoir.

In order to maintain this steady flow of water from our treatment works into the network we need to increase the amount of storage of drinking water in the Wearside and South Tyne areas.

The reservoir needs to be located at a certain height, low enough to enable water to reach the reservoir by gravity flow but high enough so that a large area can be supported by gravity flow from the reservoir. Using gravity flow means that we do not need to pump the water which significantly reduces the cost of operation. The reservoir also needs to be located to the west of the areas needing support and close to our existing pipelines.

The site identified at Springwell Village is the prime location for our new reservoir. We would like to build a secure covered reservoir on land to the north of Mount Lane to maintain levels of service to our customers.

Our plans have been brought forward as we became aware that Hellens had purchased our preferred site. We approached Hellens and have an agreement in principle to purchase the site and have also notified Sunderland Council of our intentions. We are now carrying out design works to understand how best to accommodate the reservoir within the site and what the visual impact will be.

When the design is progressed further we will share our plans with you and to understand your views and identify improvements that can be included before submission of an outline planning application.

Questions raised during the meeting

How big will the reservoir be?
In terms of area of the land we plan to purchase, approximately two thirds of this would be given over to the reservoir. It’s likely that the reservoir will be built in two stages. An initial volume of about 40,000 cubic metres (approximately the size of 16 Olympic swimming pools) would be provided to meet the current storage requirements. A second phase would be built to coincide with existing storage in the area reaching the end of life and needing to be replaced.

Will public access be maintained on the land?
To ensure the drinking water quality is protected we are unable to allow public access onto our service reservoir sites. However, we should be able to accommodate access to areas on the site that are not directly part of the reservoir (see previous question). We will look at maximising public access during the design process and will work with you to take on board your feedback.

Will further housing development affect the water supply to the village?
The water supply to Springwell Village would not be affected by additional housing if this were to be approved. The higher demand for storage relates to a larger area including some of Washington and South Tyne areas.

Will it be an underground tank and what will it look like after it’s finished?
The reservoir will be partially underground but as the site is not flat the ground level will need to be raised in some areas. The walls of the tank would have a grassed covering to give a more natural appearance to the site.

Is it definitely going ahead?
There is a need to provide additional storage in the Wearside and South Tyne area and some existing storage will need to be replaced in future. There will definitely be some additional storage provided in this area and the site at Springwell is the most favourable location. As we are only now starting this process we cannot be 100% sure that we will be able, or given permission, to build at Springwell.

When will it start?
We are unable to provide a start date for the work as we are just at the beginning of our planning process. Once we have a better idea of timescales, we will keep you updated.
Do you need public support for the planning application?
We would welcome your support and we would hope that by consulting with the residents and understanding issues or concerns, we can adapt the design to something that all parties involved are happy with. Public consultation is a key part of the planning process but it is not the only information that Sunderland Council will need to consider to arrive at a decision.

Can’t you buy the whole site?
Hellens want to retain the rest of the land in their ownership and also we cannot justify to our customers use of their money to purchase land that we do not need.

What disruption can be expected during construction?
Construction of the reservoir will be a significant project. We will do all we can to minimise disruption but there will be an element of noise disruption while large construction equipment is on site and dust in dry weather that will be present. We will liaise with the local community prior to any work starting and ensure you are all fully aware of what work will take place.

What access route will be used during construction?
We will need to develop a plan for access to the site but this will definitely prevent construction traffic moving through Springwell Village. We will consult with you on our plans to access the site when we have had opportunity to properly consider the options available.

How long will it take to build?
It’s too early in the process to give an accurate answer but the initial phase is likely to take up to two years to build.

Wasn’t this site identified before?
Yes, the site was originally identified to be constructed along with Mosswood water treatment works in the 1950’s. For some reason the provision of storage was not included when Mosswood was built.

Will there be more testing of the land?
There were boreholes drilled in 1997 and the information gained from these will still be valid and will be used in the design. Some additional work may be required as the reservoir is likely to be bigger than the size proposed twenty years ago.
Can you build houses on top of the reservoir?
No, the reservoir is not designed to support anything being built on top.

How will the reservoir affect housing development on the remaining land?
The reservoir will not affect the remaining land owned by Hellens. As a condition of the sale we will have to provide some access across our proposed reservoir site for Hellens to access their land.

Will there be permanent equipment on site for operation?
There will be a small building required to house control equipment for operating the reservoir. We will consult with the local community before anything is erected.

Would it have any impact on flood scheme at Beech Grove?
The design of the reservoir will need to take into account many factors, including drainage, to ensure that we are not causing any issues. We will also be in contact with Sunderland City Council, residents and other key third parties to understand any existing issues that need to be considered during the design process.

Will there be noise from the reservoir when it’s in use?
There may be a faint noise of moving water when on the reservoir site but there will be no noise from the reservoir in the areas that we are hoping to keep open for public access.

What will be the access route for reservoir operation?
Access to the completed reservoir will probably be from Mount Lane. A small amount of traffic will be required for operation, a van visiting once or twice a week would be expected.

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