Southern Water has revealed the reason for the sudden repair works that have closed one direction of a busy town centre route.
The water company said the reason why it was now digging up the A249 Sittingbourne Road in the centre of Maidstone was it had discovered there had been a “misconnection” that had resulted in the sewage from a nearby block of flats entering the surface water drains instead of the foul sewer main.
A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “Our teams are working hard to reduce pollution, as part of this, we have identified a misconnection at a block of flats next to A249 in Maidstone.
“While repairs are underway, we have had to close one lane on the A249.
“We’re very sorry for the disruption this is causing residents, businesses, and commuters in this area.”
The good news is that the company expects to have completed the work and to be able to re-open the lane on Wednesday morning.
In the meantime, Sittingbourne Road remains shut to north-bound traffic at its junction with Albion Place. The diversion is via the A20, New Cut Road and Bearsted Road. The road has been closed since last Thursday.
Traffic coming south down Sittingbourne Road from Bearsted Road is unaffected.
Most properties built after 1920 have two sewer connections. Wastewater from kitchens, bathrooms and household appliances and human waste from toilets should be linked to the foul sewer, which carries the wastewater to treatment works where it is purified before being released into our rivers or seas.
But rainwater from roofs and gutters should be directed into the surface water drain, which releases the flow untreated.
If a builder mixes up the connections, wastewater can be directed into the surface water drain where it later enters rivers and seas untreated – carrying polluting toxins.
Southern Water said: “Misconnections can be devastating for the health of local watercourses and wildlife.”
The company has a six-man misconnections team whose sole job is to trace and tackle misconnected properties.
One way they do that is by installing cages at inspection points in the surface water sewers.
If local properties are connected correctly, the cages should only catch things like leaves or debris from roads.
If they contain evidence of toilet or washing machine residue, the workmen know there is a misconnection and they then track back to find the fault.