First, DON’T PANIC, make sure you are carrying your towel, engineering hat on for a mo. Before you read any of this stuff be assured that apart from swimming in the sea in Thanet after heavy rain, you aren’t likely to be drinking high concentrations of raw sewage, weedkiller and other nasties.
The environment Agency started to produce a leaflet groundwater quality in Thanet, if this is available on their website then I can’t find it, but I have managed to get hold of the first three of these leaflets covering the period from October 2009 to June 2010.
Thanet sits on its own drinking water reservoir, the chalk under Thanet acts like a big sponge and anything liquid that falls on the ground is soaked up and since pre history there have been wells dug into this chalk sponge, water drawn from these wells has been drunk by the people of Thanet.
The chalk filters some of the nasties out, some get through with the water and some parts of this underground reservoir have been so badly damaged by toxic chemical spills that the only thing to do is to keep pumping contaminated water from wells around the spill, so that it doesn’t spread to other parts of the chalk.
If you look at the rather splodgy map above you will see it has red bits on it, the red circles show the area around the drinking water pumping stations, and wiggly sausage like lines extending from these are “adits” underground tunnels for water leading to the pumping stations.
There are quite tight controls about what you can pour into the ground over the red bits, hence all the fuss over China Gateway, where the firm involved intended to let out lots of industrial units with their own septic tanks, draining into the red bit.
The green bits are not so sensitive, if you get caught short in the country, but not really a good place to throw away the contents of the bottle at the back of the shed with the skull and crossbones on it.
The blue bits are even less sensitive, but what goes in there will probably eventually come out.
Issue one says that the EA have helped get £30m to mend our Victorian sewers and redirect sewage pipes that lead directly to the chalk and lots over other reassuring things see http://www.thanetonline.com/gwqn/
I am assuming that having boiled your water or whatever you are now ready for issue two, this tells us among other things that the environmentally conscious Thanet Earth wanted to pour their effluent into the drinking water, but that after discussions with the EA has now got permission to build a sewage pipe. It’s a bit vague about where the effluent is going at the moment, perhaps they are crossing their legs, see http://www.thanetonline.com/gwqn/id3.htm
Issue three interestingly enough doesn’t contain the interesting page 4 “Site Specific Updates” that I read with interest in issues one and two, possibly nothing of note occurred at specific sites in Thanet during that period. Here is the link to issue three http://www.thanetonline.com/gwqn/id4.htm