New Archimedes Screws at Margate Pumping Station as part of upgrade scheme

The new equipment arriving at Margate Wastewater Pumping Station Photo Rob Yates

Two new Archimedes Screws have arrived at Margate Wastewater Pumping Station as part of a £9million upgrade.

The new arrivals replace existing mechanisms which were almost 40 years old.

They help defy gravity by lifting the sewage from North Thanet from the sewer to the start of the treatment process.

Because they are often in action 24 hours a day, even the largest ones start to wear in time, which effects the efficiency of pumping stations and mean they eventually require replacing.

Southern Water says it is aiming to improve its environmental performance through a £2bn investment between 2020 and 2025.

Old and new

Project Manager, Jonathan Yates, said: “New Archimedes Screws are vital to Margate Wastewater Pumping Station running efficiently and effectively. It was important that they were replaced as part of the increased resilience works underway to ensure a robust and efficient way to move and treat the sewage.”

Work on the second phase of Southern Water’s resilience scheme began in 2020 and will be complete by 2025, an anticipated investment of £6.6m.

New telemetry equipment is being installed and the station at Margate is now manned 24/7, with critical spares on site to enable a quick response in the event of a mechanical failure.

Sewage pollution

14 beaches and bays were affected in October 2021 Photo Frank Leppard

In 2021 Southern Water was fined a record £90m for 51 sewage pollution charges which took place between 2010 and 2015. There were also storm release incidents in 2021 that resulted in the majority of Thanet’s beaches being closed for a number of days in both June and October and prompted a public protest events and investigations by the Environment Agency.

The water company says storm overflows are necessary if the tanks fill up otherwise the wastewater would back up into residents’ properties because of the way the Victorian sewer system is designed.

In 2019-20 there were 434 polluting releases by Southern Water. The company says it aims to reduce that to 80 by 2025 and zero by 2040. To do this it is developing drainage and wastewater plans for the region.

Rumfields Tower

Southern Water at the Rumfields burst Photo Neal Parton

Earlier this month Southern Water completed works in a £1million upgrade at Rumfields Tower in Broadstairs to “extend its life and make it more resilient.”

The six month upgrade was carried out due to infrastructure problems including leaks. Water director Tim McMahon said the tower is a reservoir with storage for 6 hours, meaning that timespan is available to restore water. But during works it was operating on two pumps and did not have the six hour supply so interruptions immediately hit customers.

A burst water main in December and outages due to lost power supply to the pumps in January and February affected some 13, 395 properties with around 12,000 being homes and just over 1,000 non-household (business/commercial). Around 9,000 of those properties had no water for 33 hours.

Between January 12-15 the booster pumps failed, on January 21 there was a mains power failure and the generator also failed leaving 4,000 properties without water for 11 hours. On January 30 the pumps were down for around 30 minutes and on February 25 they were down for around 45 minutes.

For the December incident compensation was paid to 9,696 household customers and 1,043 non household by January 20. Late payment to 2,656 customers meant an additional £20 had to be paid to each of them.

A total of £782,000 was paid in compensation to customers and local businesses.

With the completion of works the 6 hour storage is back in place. A further £250,000 will now be spent on boosters in areas such as control and power systems and grid connections to make sure the pumps do not ‘trip’ with works expected to take 6 months.


  1. After all the problems that you caused to lots of the homes, going without water, you should be giving compensation.
    Your a terrible company.
    The supply of water should be taken back and put in the control of the local government.

    • Would you really trust TDC to run it any better ?

      However, I agree it should be a nationalised service provider rather than a privatised company making profits for shareholders.

      All the fines are a total nonsense as they are ultimately paid by the consumers – and nobody knows where the fine monies end up !

    • Affected people have been paid compensation, where appropriate.
      And yes. Bring water (and gas electricity, rail ..) back into public ownership.

  2. Good to see improvements being made, especially before the start of the summer season. The the System needs a phenomenally expensive overhaul.
    Would be good to have the ‘Beachbouy’ app to be functioning on the Forness point site

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