Ancient streams could have helped cause Jesmond floods

Image by CeresB

North Jesmond Lib Dem councillor Peter Andras has criticised the services of Northumbrian Water after the August floods, in particular raising concerns over their treatment and analysis of underground streams.

Andras, who yesterday finished fourth in the race to become Police and Crime Commissioner, thinks the streams were unable to cope with the high levels of rainfall and says he worries about their suitability for the future.

In the floods, which caused major problems across Newcastle and the North East, Jesmond was affected by severe rainfall and the build-up of water caused by streams which were piped under houses by Victorian planners.

Cllr Andras, whilst accepting that exceptionally high levels of rainfall occurred, is also convinced that some of the problems in August were caused by the ancient streams of Jesmond, which can be seen on maps of the area as late as the 1850s.

Due to the development of the area in the late 19th Century though these streams were covered and contained in pipes to control them and ensure the safe construction and survival of rows of terraced houses.

Concerned by the state of the streams and the pipes they flow through, Cllr Andras asked Northumbrian Water to investigate them in order to ensure that they were fit for purpose, at a meeting after the floods in September.

He was particularly worried after research showed that floods in the 1970s were also caused by the underground sewers overflowing.

The flooding was so bad in parts of Buston Terrace and Fenwick Close that residents were forced to move out for a short time whilst the water receded and repairs were made, with areas around Mistletoe Road, Tankerville Terrace and St George Close also severely affected.

Having asked to be kept informed, Councillor Andras claims that he has not heard about any further work from Northumbrian Water or Newcastle City Council, saying that Northumbrian Water “responded slowly and did not provide necessary information.”

He did however add that he remains grateful for the company’s involvement in discussions with the Jesmond community and in particular for their attendance at the flood meeting in September.

Asked to respond to Cllr Andras’ comments on their work, a spokesman said that Northumbrian Water has carried out investigations of the sewers in question, both through direct inspection where possible and by using cameras.

He added that the company remains committed to finding ways to identify improvements and to maintain good relations with the City Council and with the residents of Jesmond. They hope to give a full and detailed update at the next community flood meeting on 20 November.

Any issues with flooding can be reported to Newcastle City Council through their ‘Let’s Talk’ website at http://www.letstalknewcastle.co.uk/consultations/index/60. The next community flood meeting will be on Tuesday 20 November 2012 at the Royal Grammar School Theatre on Eskdale Terrace, beginning 6.30pm.

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