Denaby Sewage Problem.

March 1939

Mexborough & Swinton Times, March 3, 1939

Denaby Sewage Problem.
Works Inadequate and Out of Date.
Conisborough U.D.C. bid for £20,000 loan.
New Scheme Outlined at Enquiry.

Statements that the sewerage works for the Denaby Main area are inadequate and out of date, and that the West Riding Rivers Board threatened the Conisborough Urban Council with legal action if alleged pollution did not cease were made at a ministry of Health Enquiry held at the Conisborough Council Chambers on Wednesday. The inspector Mr G. Carlyle heard an application by the Council to the Minister for consent to the borrowing of £20,000 for sewerage disposal works.

Mr Spencer Baker submitted the Councils case, and was supported by Mr J.A.Gardiner, Chief Inspector of the Rivers Board. No objections were made.

District Statistics.

Mr Baker said the area of the district was 1593 acres, and the population in 1921, was 15,860, and in 1931 18,174. The registrar general´s mid-year report for 1938 for 17,190, but this reduction the council were not disposed to accept. The amount proposed by a penny rate was £205, the total rate in the pound for the current year was 20s 2d, and for the previous year 19s 6d.

The present application was to borrow £3185 for 15 years; £1636 for 20 years; and £15,179 for 30 years. If they did not take into consideration any contribution from any other authority or any government grant the loan charges would be increased by £1216 19s 6d per annum, which was equivalent to an increase of 6d in the pound on the rates. Some slight adjustment might be required because the rate of the Public Works Loan Board had increased from 3 1/2% to 3 3/4%.

Inspector: Are contributions towards the cost expected from the County Council or any other authority?

Mr Baker: the question has not been raised, because we do not anticipate they could be a contribution from the County Council. Rather, in fact, the other way on. If we modernise these works, we increased the effective capital value and the County Council are now proposing that sewerage disposal works should be rated on that. Obviously, we shall be given a further contribution to the County.

The inspector: what proportion of your total rate is County? – About five eights.

Mr Baker went on to say that the net rateable value was £54,977. Among the authority’s debts was £37,890 under the Public Health Acts of which £14,546 was for sewerage disposal and £7890 for privy conversions. The latter was a fairly old standing debt.

Water Supply Query.

The inspector asked about the water supply, and in reply, the surveyor, Mr H.Thirlwall, said the position was peculiar. Half of the area belonged to the Colliery Company and they supplied that part with water direct. The Council also purchased in bulk to supply the Conisborough area.

Mr Baker said there were two drainage areas: the Weston area, Denaby, with which they were dealing, and the eastern area, Burcroft and Conisborough. Roughly half the population were served by each works. The present works were laid down in 1904, and they had the following capacity: dry weather flow 200,000 gallons, medium strength per day, which was sufficient for 6200 persons. The actual flow was very much in excess of that – 320,000. Increase laws due to increased population, and the use of more domestic water. Since 1904 there had been built 224 new houses, all with WC´s and some with baths, and there had been 1208 privy conversions.

It was anticipated that sewerage requirements would increase as time went on, owing to the industrial development of the district. They would need more housing accommodation, in respect of which they were in consultation with the Colliery Company. It was quite possible both Council and Colliery Company would have to provide more houses.

The present works were very inadequate indeed, and most of the equipment was out of date. It was proposed to improve and extend the works to deal with a dry weather flow of 400,000 gallons, sufficient for 13,200 persons at a rate of 30 gallons per head per day. Under the new scheme it was proposed to provide a new screening plant and to treat up to 3 times the dry weather flow, provide for adequate settlement of storm water up to 6 times the dry weather flow, measure and record the amount of sewage pumped and the amount treated, as well as the amount treated separately as storm water, to provide for the efficient filtration of tank effluent and the settlement of the filter effluent in humus tanks before discharge to the River. It was also proposed to equip the works with modern automatically controlled and electrically operated pumping plant to serve the needs of the works under any normal conditions without resorting to shift work.

Pressure by Rivers Board.

Considerable pressure was being put upon the Council by the West Riding Rivers Board, who were well aware of the difficulties that had to be faced – partly technical and partly financial. When the inspector considered that the present rate was over 20 shillings in the pound he would realise that the financial difficulty was great for a small local authority.

The Council reason for hesitating about incurring the expenditure was that in proportion to population and area they had a very small rateable value indeed. Apart from collieries and one or two industrial concerns the defended almost entirely for their revenue funds upon the small shopkeeper and a small house holder. The Council news that the present works were bad but only for the health of the district as a whole, but particularly for those who live near the works, and they perfectly realise that they must have a clear and clean effluent to the River.

Surveyor’s Evidence

Mr Thirlwall said, in evidence that the inception of the scheme was due to drainage difficulties that manifest themselves in the original scheme. Owing to mining subsidence, the main outfall sewer between Lowfields and Burcroft lost its available fall and consequently was unable to pass sewage to the works. This resulted in a new scheme for Denaby Main area which was subsequently drained in a westerly direction to the works now under review. The population now served by these works was roughly 9000 persons from approximately 1850 houses.

The present capacity of the works was not more than 200,000 gallons per day, and this could only be put through by resorting to shifts and expedients of getting the sewage through the works. It was quite impossible to treat the whole of the sewage.

No part of the existing works were to be superseded, and there were no loans outstanding in connection with the works. In the new proposals it was intended to retain the original principle of treatment by settlement and filtration, and the works would be modernised to ensure the maximum efficiency and full control over the sewage to be dealt with.

Few Baths

The sewage to be treated was entirely domestic, of medium strength, from an area in which each house and a water closet; they were, however, very few baths. The estimated amount provided for in the new works, allowing for additional requirements and a marginal allowance, was 400,000 gallons per day.

Figures given by the Colliery Company showed the minimum consumption of water in the 12 months ended September 30, 1938, was 29 gallons per head per day and the maximum daily consumption 36 gallons. The average daily consumption was 32.6 Gallons. Making allows for the infiltration of subsoil water. The present estimated dry weather flow was about 210,000 gallons per day, which would be increased in the near future by 29,000 gallons per day from the pit head baths now being erected.

The design of the works for management and operation was open to considerable criticism, and it was impossible to deal effectively with the whole of the dry weather flow, let alone six times.

Mr Thirlwall then gave a technical description of the new proposals.

Wasted Water.

The inspector referred to the exceptionally high maximum consumption of water per person per day. There was no trade consumption: it must be wasted at the source or at the tap.

Mr Thirlwall: We know it is wasted.

Mr Baker: Perhaps in mining areas it is affected by shift work.

Inspector: They use a gallon every 6 minutes.

Mr Gardiner said he appreciated the manner in which the Council and given their evidence. He agreed with Mr Thirlwall on the subject of the disabilities of the existing works, and it was to this fact which caused his Boards take up with the Council the necessity or altering and extending them. That was in July 1933, and since that time there had been intermission correspondence between the Board and the Council. There had been genuine reason which caused the rather long delay. There was no question that the whole works were inadequate, and in October last the Board threatened to serve two months´ notice of intention to take legal steps, but these proceedings were withheld after the Councils explanation that the scheme was so far advanced.

He complimented Mr Thirlwall. The problem was difficult from the engineering point of view, but the Board were quite satisfied with the proposals put forward. It would be undesirable to cut out any part of the scheme; if one filter work was cut out to save costs it would spoil the whole layout and efficiency of the plant.

Cllr David Sheldon, chairman of the Council, express thanks to the inspector. Referring to the Registrar Generals estimate of present population he said there were more men working the colliery now than in 1931 and thought houses were vacant then, none were now. The absence of ratepayers at the enquiry indicated their agreement with the scheme.

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