Firefighters are currently pumping 5,000 litres of water a minute away from a stricken treatment plant in Kenley, Croydon. The water treatment plant serving more than 46,000 properties has been affected by severe flooding since Thursday night.
London Fire Brigade has had to employ a high volume pump capable of pumping 300,000 litres of water an hour, one of only six in the capital. A support crew has worked through the night as part of an inter-agency response to prevent the flooding of the water works and contamination of the water supply with sewage.
Sutton and East Surrey Water (SESW), which runs the plant, is working closely with the London Borough of Croydon, the London Fire Brigade, and the Environment Agency. Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Firefighters have been working very hard throughout the night to pump water away from the facility and protect it from flooding.”
The treatment plant is located in a valley where incessant rainfall has led to localised flooding, an issue compounded by the overflowing of a stream that runs alongside the site. Dobson added: “The water works supplies tens of thousands of homes in the area so our crews are working extremely hard to bring this incident to a quick and safe conclusion.”
SESW says if necessary, it is planning to supply its customers by re-routing additional supplies from other treatment works. Managing Director, Anthony Ferrar, added: “We would very much regret having to shut down Kenley treatment works and are doing all we can to make sure it does not happen.”
Ferrar however, cautioned that “this is a major incident and if the site is overwhelmed, our overriding concern has to be to ensure the integrity and safety of our water supply”.
Croydon Council leader Mike Fisher said: “The council is working closely with emergency services, local water companies, and neighbouring authorities to ensure plans are in place to deal with the situation if it worsens.”
The heavy downpours have already led to several homes in Kenley being evacuated.
Fisher added: “We are doing everything we possibly can to prepare for flooding and to make local residents and businesses, who will be potentially affected aware.” He further emphasised that while the majority of Croydon will not be affected, people needed to remain vigilant.
The Met Police have advised drivers to avoid the A22 Godstone Road, Kenley.