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Crunch time for London Tideway

Thames Water has pressed the case for its £2bn London Tideway Tunnels project ahead of Friday’s draft price determination from water regulator Ofwat.

Ofwat’s price determination sets bill limits for water firms for the next five years. These in turn determine the amount of capital projects that can be taken on.

Thames Water claims its £2bn Tideway Tunnels project will cut the 32M.m³ of untreated sewage that currently overflows into the river each year during rainfall.

Relying on price increases

But it is relying on Ofwat to agree to water price increases which will enable to it to fund this vital work.

“Ofwat must make the right decision at this year’s price review,” said Thames Water strategy and regulation director Peter Antolik.

“A tough deal for Thames, which leaves us unable to fund this crucial project, will simply mean a tough deal for our customers − and indeed, London and the River Thames.”

Ground investigation works for the Thames Tunnel sewer got underway earlier this month.

“A tough deal for Thames will simply mean a tough deal for our customers.”

Peter Antolik, Thames Water

They have begun in the riverbed outside the Palace of Westminster, where a borehole has been sunk at the start of a nine month testing programme along the river.

The London Tideway scheme comprises the 32km Thames Tunnel which broadly follows the route of the River Thames, and the Lee Tunnel, a 7km sewer which will prevent sewage overflows into the River Lee.

The Lee Tunnel is due for completion in 2014 and the Thames Tunnel by 2020.

The precise route of the Thames Tunnel is not yet finalised, but it will connect to the 34 most polluting combined sewer overflows along the river in London.

Developing a detailed design

“The boreholes in the river are key to helping us develop a detailed design for the Thames Tunnel,” said Antolik.

“Ahead of submitting a planning application in 2011, we first need to build up a thorough technical understanding of the potential constraints along the proposed route.”

Ground data obtained from the survey will be added to a national library of samples held by the British Geological Survey.

London Tideway Timeline

  • July 2009 Start of borehole drilling in River Thames to analyse geology
  • Late July 2009 Planning approval for Lee Tunnel and Beckton Treatment Works
  • Autumn 2009 Contract award for Lee Tunnel construction
  • Early 2010 Work expected to start on site for Lee Tunnel construction

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