Drowned dog at water treatment plant near Dunmow sparks safety concerns

Ron the lost dog

Ron the lost dog - Credit: Archant

A missing dog was found drowned at a disused water treatment plant at Barnston near Dunmow on Wednesday (July 27), sparking concerns for pets’ and children’s safety, especially during the school holidays.

The two-year-old Border Terrier called Ron disappeared a week ago and despite extensive searches had remained missing until the tragic discovery on Wednesday morning by his owner Alfie Budd.

It’s thought the dog found his way into a disused water treatment plant and became trapped in an old chamber. There is also a modern working Anglian Water treatment plant, with the disused facility behind it being covered by undergrowth and in thick woods. The plant is understood to have remained unused for decades.

Despite attending later in the day and making the site safe with a fence, Anglian Water have confirmed that they no longer own the land at the site of the abandoned plant.

Ron’s owners Alfie and Susan Budd were too upset to comment, but close friend Robert Dowman said: “We’d been searching and searching for him for a week, but it looks like he fell in to a redundant chamber and drowned.” Mr Downam bred Ron and his sister Edith, who is still with the Budds, and still owns Ron’s mother and father.

He believes there are three disused chambers at the facility: a small, empty one; a larger circular one; and another square one that is approximately 6ft by 6ft, surrounded by a small wall with a two to three feet drop and about 3ft of water at the bottom, and this is where the Border Terrier became trapped.

Mr Dowmnan called Uttlesford District Council at approximately 10.30am with the council’s health and safety officer David Cottrell attending shortly afterwards.

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“It was clearly dangerous,” said Mr Cottrell. “The modern plant is enclosed and safe, but there’s an abandoned water treatment plant behind it. There were concrete fence posts but the wiring had long since gone.

“I saw it as a matter of urgency. It’s in thick woods but there’s a public footpath right next to where people walk their dogs. If a child fell in there, I don’t think they’d be able to get out.”

Mr Cottrell immediately contacted Anglian Water, and an engineer attended at approximately 4pm. Despite servicing the modern plant, he was unaware of the disused and overgrown facility. However, the Anglian Water representative agreed that the offending chamber was unsafe and a six-foot temporary fence was erected by 6pm.

Mr Dowman commended the swift action and professionalism of the council official.

Mr Dowman said: “Ron was such a lovely character, such a personality.” He also explained that Ron’s sister was missing him terribly. “She sits by the gate waiting for him to get back.”

Anglian Water press officer Sarah Dobson said: “We regularly check and monitor all our facilities, but we’d urge the public to contact us if they see anything they are concerned about.”

The emergency contact for Anglian Water, which is open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, is 03457 145 145.