Minutes and Resolutions
Wednesday 21st November 2012

Gdynia Way ? Summary of events 21-24th November 2012

Gdynia Way – Summary of events 21-24th November 2012.

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the recent situation in Gdynia Way, Plymouth. I offer a short summary of the events and the actions taken by SWW both during and following the exceptionally heavy rainfall suffered by the City during the week of 19th to 25th November

Gdynia Way was first closed by the police during the adverse weather conditions on the night of the 21st November and then again in the afternoon of the 22nd November due to severe flooding from two manhole covers (see attached map). As a result of this, and in liaison with Plymouth City Council, South West Water arranged for a full Closed Circuit Television Survey to be undertaken in the immediate vicinity of these two manholes on the evening of the 23rd November after the rush hour traffic had passed. This survey indicated that there were no apparent issues with the sewers in Gdynia Way.

Notwithstanding these results we also arranged for our sewers in the wider area of Barbican Approach to be checked on 24th November 2012 (see attached map). Whilst performing this work, our contractors retrieved a large slab of building construction material from the sewer some 75m downstream of the 2 manholes in question. There is no way of knowing for certain how this slab came to be in the sewer or how long it had been there. This was a very large piece of concrete measuring approximately 40cm across and 25cm wide (almost as big as a kitchen sink) and appeared to consist of hardened mortar and rubble (pictured below).

During the Saturday evening (24th) a second severe storm hit Plymouth and as a precaution Gydnia Way was closed for a second time, although on this occasion the manholes remained in place.

We are now in the process of cleaning the sewer within Barbican Approach as subsequent investigations have indicated that there may be more building related material that needs to be removed along the entire section marked on the map. To keep disruption to a minimum we have worked in close liaison with Plymouth City Council with regards to the planning of this cleaning and this work is still on going.

I can also confirm that further surveys have also now taken place at all the other manholes within Gdynia Way upstream of the 2 in question and these surveys indicated that there were no further issues in Gdynia Way.

South West Water meet Plymouth City Council quarterly to discuss strategic flooding issues, a separate working group has been established to discuss known flooding issues. Prior to the recent events Gdynia Way and Barbican Approach had seen surface water flooding issues which the City Council were keen to tackle as part of the new highway improvement scheme. The area has never previously featured as a sewage flood risk area and so after the November road closures Plymouth City Council have been keen to ensure that the public were aware that the flooding was solely related to SWW assets.

Once the construction debris has been totally cleared out from the sewers in Gdynia Way and Barbican Approach this particular sewer will be added to our planned cleansing programme. As part of this process the sewer will be inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it is working to its optimum efficiency and cleaning will take place should any deterioration be noticed.

If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

Dr Stephen Bird
Operations Director