Stories of the New Borehole

A new borehole has just been drilled down to the Hot Springs in Bath. So far, I have found three different official stories as to why.

The first story on 16th August 2011, is from a council newsletter. It says that the old metal pipe on the existing borehole is corroding and needs replacing. (Common theme these days with metal water, gas and sewage pipes being manically replaced by plastic ones up and down the country). “We don’t want an unstable source of the thermal waters as it would threaten the whole spring system by affecting the hydraulic pressure that brings the water to the surface”. So they are worried about instability and water pressure. The council will fund the new borehole.

The second story on 4th November 2011, is from a BBC article. It says that the Roman Baths may run dry as it is likely a geyser nearly 8m high will erupt. The water level used to be 3 feet below the ground (which ground level are we talking about?) and is now only 3 inches below. The area is at risk. This time the new borehole is needed to stop the Roman Baths running dry and prevent the geyser erupting.

The third story is on 14th December 2011, from the Wessex Water website(the local water company), and also on information boards outside the worksite. It says that the new, as yet undeveloped, Gainsborough Hotel, will need its own borehole to the Hot Springs, so its guests can have private access to the thermal waters. While they are at it, they can replace the existing borehole which has rusting metal. Wessex Water are doing the work, it is funded by YTL who own the Gainsborough Hotel. And they own Wessex Water. And they now have control of the source of the Hot Springs! YTL is a private transnational company which is concerned with political manoeuvres and money making, not the welfare of the people of Bath.They talk about a “new supply of thermal waters”. Isn’t it the same supply, just a different borehole? Some of the wording is quite clever.

The work on the borehole was due for completion by Mid Jan 2012. It actually finished around the end of Feb, 6 weeks late. In that time, around early Feb, I discovered that the Hot Springs were cooling down, see my earlier post “Hot Springs Go Cold”. New heating coils have been fitted in the Bath Spa since then, and apparently the temperature is now up to what it should be! With the help of man made boilers. They shouldn’t need man made boilers, the water naturally bubbles to the surface naturally preheated to around 44 degrees.

The new borehole is now complete, and provides water at 47 degrees. This is mysteriously 3 degrees hotter than before, and hotter than the 46 degrees claimed for the Roman Baths which are in a hotter spot. My guess is that somewhere between the source of the Spring and the top of the new borehole, some man made pumps and boilers have been put in, possibly in the chamber immediately underneath the current surface level, where the new “headgear” is installed. The Hot Spring is undergoing major natural change. They are trying to combat nature, and replicate the effect of the Hot Springs. Understandable, really. The Tourist industry of Bath is very dependent on the Hot Springs. But maybe there could be a new kind of tourism where everyone flocks to Bath to witness the Mighty Hot Springs, arguably the best in the world, go cold.

The fact that they have to drill 75m below street level down to the Source, tells me that the current level of the city is 75m above the original ground level. There are at least 4 layers of city in Bath from Bladud, medieval times, Romans, and Georgians. What is going on down there in that underground world?

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