Reed bed at sewage works keeps Oxfordshire village ‘green’

Posted: Friday 1st February 2013

Treated wastewater flowing into a local river is now cleaner than ever six months after natural reed bed filters were installed at an Oxfordshire sewage works.

The reeds give an extra clean to the treated discharge leaving Uffington sewage works for the River Ock – a place of recognised natural beauty.

The area was home to author Thomas Hughes, who was born and educated in the village, described the area’s natural beauty in his 1857 novel ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays,’ saying: "Within a circle of five miles, there is enough interest and beauty to last any reasonable man in his life."

Thames Water's £115,600 installation is helping to preserve the natural environment by providing a green solution to the treatment of sewage in the area while maintaining the high quality of the outfall pipe that discharges into the River Ock.

The outfall already met consent guidelines before the project, but since the installation of the aerated reed beds, early indications are that they are removing significantly higher levels of suspended solid particles and ammonia that would have discharged into the river.

Des Monger, Thames Water’s project manager, said:

"Since we installed the reed beds we've seen great improvements in the quality of water that we discharge into the River Ock.

"The new reed beds also offer a fantastic potential habitat for nesting birds and amphibians which we hope to welcome on to the site in future."

Uffington's sewage works discharges its treated effluent to the River Ock, a tributary of the River Thames. Work started on the upgrade In November 2011 and was completed in March 2012. The project meets the aims of Defra’s Love Your River campaign.

Richard Benyon, the Environment Minister, said:

"We all love our rivers. They are the lifeblood of our country. They’ve shaped our landscape, and our towns and cities have been designed around them. They are vitally important for our everyday lives and our environment, and we’ve all got a role to play in making sure our rivers are as healthy as they can be."

The upgrade was part of a £4.9bn programme of work being carried out by Thames Water between 2010 and 2015 to improve and maintain its pipes, sewers and other facilities across London and the Thames Valley.

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