Frome for improvement as projects boost local river

The mission to protect the precious ecology in and around the River Frome is being stepped up this year as investment of more than £5 million flows towards safeguarding the South Gloucestershire waterway.

What are we doing?

A trio of projects – the first of which begins in April 2024 – will be launched in Frampton Cotterell over the next 12 months to help boost the condition of the 20-mile-long watercourse, which flows from the Cotswolds into Bristol.

Our teams will build nearly a million litres of new below-ground storage at three separate locations within the village to ease the flow of large amounts of rain into sewers during heavy storms, helping to significantly reduce the automatic operation of storm overflows.

Where are we working?

Starting in April, the six-month installation of a £1.5 million storage tank capable of holding as much as 225,000 litres of water will begin on land next to the Frome Valley Walkway off Church Road in Frampton Cotterell.

Similar projects – near Nightingale Lane (180,000 litres of storage) and Watley’s End (480,000 litres) - are scheduled to get under way further downstream in May and July, bringing the total amount of new storage in place in the village to nearly 900,000 litres.

How will it help?

Designed as a relief valve to protect homes from flooding, currently the overflows – part of the UK’s sewer system for more than a century - automatically discharge diluted wastewater before treatment if the network is overwhelmed by excess rain mixing with foul water.

Project manager Andy Roberts said: “These substantial investments into our sewer system in Frampton Cotterell will help to improve the quality of the River Frome by reducing times when untreated water reaches it via the automatic operation of storm overflows.

“The combined sewer system can be overwhelmed by rain in heavy storms but, by holding this excess water back in these tanks, we can then return it to the system later, via the Frome Valley Relief Sewer, so it can go onward to a water recycling centre for treatment.’’

The latter two schemes will be completed by January of next year, all part of our £3 million a month investment to reduce how often overflows operate.

Working with the community

We’ve written to nearby customers and businesses about the first of the projects, a deep excavation just off Church Road next to the River Frome and have also advised the parish council and local South Gloucestershire Council members.

A small section of the Frome Valley Walkway will be diverted along nearby Meadow Mead and Rectory Road during the Church Road construction and we’ll be reinstating the area, including a memorial bench which we will carefully remove while work takes place and reinstate when completed.

The Nightingale Lane and Watley’s End projects are taking place away from public rights of way.

What else are we doing?

We have committed to progressively and substantially reduce the discharge of untreated wastewater by 2025, currently focusing on priority projects where overflows discharge most frequently or have an environmental impact.

Similar projects along the River Avon have also been completed or are under way, with storage tanks being constructed in Hanham near Bristol, Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire and Lambridge in the east of Bath, with plans in place for a further Bath solution and storage tank in Saltford already well advanced.

Proposals to invest a record £400 million towards the goal of reducing overflow operation in our next five-year investment period between 2025 and 2030, subject to approval by industry regulators, have also been unveiled, with a decision expected later this year.