Building the proposed Thames Tunnel sewage storage tunnel would keep the city’s infrastructure technology in the 19th century, Middlesex University professor of water economics Colin Green said this morning.
Green was speaking at the launch of the Thames Tunnel Commission’s report on the proposed project and said that he advocated instead a hybrid solution, including sustainable urban drainage systems (Suds) and green infrastructure — such as retrofitted green roofs — to solve the problem of sewer overflows into the river Thames.
“We need, not a 19th century solution, we need to at least get into the 20th century,” Green said, claiming that the UK’s use of drainage technology trailed behind countries such as Germany. “Germany has done this and it has been doing it for ages,” Green said. “Why have we fallen so far behind, and what do we have to do to catch up? The technology already exists — why aren’t we using it?”
Lord Selborne, who led the independent commission set up by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, agreed that Thames Water’s proposed Thames Tunnel — a major tunnel beneath London which would act as a storage tank when surface water from heavy rainfall exceeded the existing sewers’ capacity — was an outdated solution. The proposed tunnel was “more of the same of what was in Victorian times a masterly solution,” he said. “We have moved on [since then].”
Thames Water reaction
Thames Water sustainability director Richard Aylard said the company would not respond to the new report until it had fully digested the commission’s findings.
He estimated that it would take 10 days for the Thames Tunnel team to process the information in its entirety.
“I do take it very seriously,” he said.