by Alan Watkins
Medway faces a major environmental crisis after millions of gallons of sewage was discovered leaking at the Medway estuary.
A main sewage pipe to the Southern Water treatment works at Motney Hill, Lower Rainham has burst letting sewage through the ground into farmland recently acquired for nature conservation.
The Environment Agency is preparing to declare it a Category One disaster - the highest rating it can give.
The untreated sewage is thought to have been leaking into the estuary and the field for several days before it was discovered.
The Environment Agency has informed environment officials at Medway Council on health and safety grounds as there are public footpaths nearby.
A member of the Kent Wildfowlers and Conservation Association (KWCA) found it coming into the field on Tuesday but it may have been leaking for considerably longer.
RSPB officials are keeping a watching brief on the problem.
Medway Council runs the popular Riverside Country Park adjacent to the sewage works, and there are two RSPB reserves (one immediately next to the sewage works) close by.
Last year the Kent wildfowlers acquired the farmland and freshwater marsh next to the leak.
They had plans to encourage wildlife and restore the freshwater marsh. Volunteers had recently been clearing the marsh of reeds rto enocurage nesting birds and waterfowl.
Speaking today (Friday) their chairman, Alan Jarrett, said: "The sewage is bubbling up at the moment. It will do nothing for our plans to turn it into a conservation area."
Paul Outhwaite, for RSPB, said: "We are still assessing the situation."
It is the second time Southern Water has had sewage leaks at Motney Hill.
Southern Water contractors are repairing the pipe.
The Environment Agency is collecting evidence.