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Sewers in Elgin are 'at capacity'

By Alistair Whitfield

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LAST week's flash floods across Elgin were solely the result of the town's antiquated sewer system rather than blocked drains and pipes.

That's the view of Moray Council, which is denying that cutbacks in how frequently it clears the drains played any part in the build-up of water.

Replying to an enquiry from Moray's MP, the council's Head of Direct Services, Stephen Cooper, wrote: "We are responsible for road gullies and their connection to sewers. In urban areas sewers are virtually always the responsibility of Scottish Water.

"Our current observation of the recent flooding was that none were as a direct result of blocked road gullies or Scottish Water sewers.

"The cause following intense rainfall was that the sewers were running at capacity and either surcharging – as evidenced by displaced chamber covers – or not accepting any more surface water in dips where the water congregates when it cannot access the gullies and sewers.

"Thus the main problem is infrastructure capacity, not blocked drains.

"It should also be noted that there are many occasions were drains within the curtilage of the property are the responsibility of the owner or occupier.

"In common with all roads authorities, Moray Council has moved to a risk-based approach for gully cleaning.

"Gullies are cleaned as determined by silt storage potential, flooding risk and third party consequence of flood events.

"It is true to say that our budgets have been cut and the frequency of cleaning gullies has been greatly reduced.

"While it is our view that the recent floods were not attributable to blocked drains it is recognised that in other weather events this may not be the case."

Commenting after receiving this reply from Mr Cooper, Douglas Ross stressed the problems that Elgin had faced and also urged action.

He said: "Streets in the Victoria Road area were impassable following a short burst of torrential rain again on Monday night when the road drains couldn’t cope and backed up.

"Problems in Maisondieu Road and the Seafield Crescent area also resulted in a number of calls as drains were inundated there, which then compounded the problems for residents in the nearby Victoria Road where this extra water ended up.

"We’ve also seen problems with surface water elsewhere in Moray over the past fortnight causing problems for pedestrians and drivers.

“Residents want to know if drains can be cleared to at least allow as much rainwater as possible to escape and help keep the streets from flooding.

"This is a problem that has been ongoing for some time and people want to see some action before properties are inundated.

"We really need a way forward.

"If the local authority is struggling to meet the needs of residents in Moray due to budget constraints, then the council leader should be speaking to the Scottish Government to access extra funding for this vital work."

Councillor Frank Brown (Elgin North, Conservative) stated he has also been in touch with the council’s road department.

He said:“We as a council are in a very difficult position, with regards to provision of services, but given the gravity of this flooding and the mitigating circumstances surrounding the heavy rainfall, I have asked again what can be done to help these constituents.

"This situation has been ongoing for years and happens every time there is prolonged or torrential rainfall. A solution needs to be found.”

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