The Central Park/ Acacia Hall River Restoration Project took a massive step forward at the end of March, writes Sam Hughes.
On Thursday 25th March 2021, after months of delay because of the pandemic, the (rather ugly but essential) cofferdams were removed from the upstream and downstream ends of the project area, and flow was returned to the restored western channel of the Darent that runs through Central Park then past the redeveloped Acacia Hall.
I can’t tell you how excited the SERT team is about this, after more than three years of hard and very muddy work!
Raw sewage is entering UK rivers on a horrifyingly regular basis, damaging our river ecosystems and putting public health at risk. In 2019 alone, untreated sewage poured into England’s rivers for an astounding 1.5 million hours, over the course of 200,000 separate incidents.
What’s really shocking is that, much of the time, this practice is completely legal.
Across the UK is a network of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). These are essentially Victorian-era relief valves on the sewage treatment infrastructure. If sewage piping, or even a sewage treatment works, is becoming overwhelmed with sewage and rainwater, it is diverted and discharged into a nearby watercourse instead of backing up into homes.
Having completed most of the river works on the River Darent in Central Park, Dartford in January 2020, we now have a bit of time to tell you what we got up to!
The River Darent splits immediately upstream of Dartford Central Park.
The western channel meanders through the park and past Acacia Hall weir before disappearing under an old ballroom building and the A226 before continuing through Dartford Town Centre. The eastern channel acts as flood relief channel and, prior to the restoration project, took the majority of low to medium flows.