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Ofwat seeks alternatives to Thames storm tunnel

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WATER REGULATOR Philip Fletcher last week questioned proposals to cut pollution in the River Thames by building a £1.7bn, 35km storm water storage and transfer tunnel.

Thames Water has proposed the tunnel as a way of halting the discharge of untreated sewage into the river during storms.

But Fletcher last week wrote to environment minister Elliot Morley urging him to investigate source control alternatives such as Sustainable Urban Drainage Solutions (SUDS) before making any decision on the tunnel.

Fletcher's recommendation came as Ofwat published a report by consultant Jacobs Babtie which listed a series of cheaper alternative solutions, although with fewer benefits than those of a tunnel.

These include SUDS, partial primary treatment of storm overfl ows, the use of skimmer craft to collect floating waste from the Thames and the use of bankside re-oxygenation equipment.

Thames Water said that it was for the government to decide if it wanted to compromise on the best environmental solution.

The water company has calculated that customers' bills would need to rise by £40-£455 a year to pay for the tunnel scheme.

INFOPLUS View the Jacobs Babtie report at www. nceplus. co. uk

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