Sustainable Urban Drainage   
Now is the time to call for the creation of natural drainage systems across North East London. Which will cut river pollution by cleaning stormwater and stop rainwater overflowing the sewer works.

Deephams Sewage Treatment Works overflows after heavy rainfall, pouring sewage into rivers in East London. The risk of sewer flooding in local streets is increasing (it happened on Spring Hill in Haringey on Tuesday 3rd July).

The proposed upgrade to Deephams Sewage Works is timely. This £300 million project by Thames Water will increase the capacity of the works to deal with more sewage. At present Deephams is too small and copes with the sewage produced by 885,000 people. When it rains its limit is reached and the overflow is discharged into the Salmons Brook, leading to Pymmes Brook and then the Lea. Polluting them all.

The Deephams upgrade would see its capacity increased to cope with another 56,000 people to serve an expected population of 941,000 in 2031.

So the £300 million investment would last about 14 years before it reaches capacity again.

This is why we need to stop rainwater entering the sewer pipes. Every drop of rain that goes to Deephams is using up space that should be for sewage - human waste; washing machine and dishwasher water; bath and shower water. Rainwater shouldn't be going to Deephams. Natural drainage systems can help reduce this problem.

If, in addition to the upgrade to Deephams Sewage Works, a network of natural drainage systems (or Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, SUDS) was created we would have an up-to-date sewer works and a way of reducing the pressure on local drains. Reedbed basins, wetlands, and other natural systems would extend the life of Deephams Sewage Works, meaning better value for the £300 million investment.

If you live or know people who live in the following boroughs - Enfield, Haringey, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barnet, and Broxbourne please register your support for a network of natural drainage systems at the Thames Water Deephams Consultation page -


Let the Greater London Authority's Drain London Project know that you want a comprehensive network of natural drainage systems (or SUDS) in NE London -

Finally, there is no point in Thames21 trying to do it all, everyone can play a part in this, on their own terms. If you are a part of a gardening group, have an allotment, are a park user, play golf, get in touch. If you want to green your street or use the grassy spaces around where you live to reduce sewage overflows and make your river healthy then get in touch. The creation of natural drainage systems like reedbeds, and vegetated basins needs to be done by people, locally on their own terms.

Theo Thomas (email

Lea Marshes