Water Industry News

Sewage Water Leaks Into Southmoor Nature Reserve

Southern Water has come under fire after sewage water surged into Langstone Harbour in Portsmouth over the weekend (November 14th), with the contaminated water leaking into the Southmoor Nature Reserve following heavy rain that allowed it to spill over sea defences.

According to The News, the incident has led leading marine biologist Dr Ian Hendy of the University of Portsmouth to call for an emergency working group to be established in order to tackle the issue.

In an email, the expert called Southern Water out for not listening to the concerns and warnings of local residents, saying that now is the time to be proactive and come up with a solution to the problem that benefits everyone, including nature.

Retired Rear Admiral Alex Burton echoed his thoughts and spoke to the news source, saying: “It appears yet again Southern Water has spilled raw sewage into Chichester Harbour, which is really horrid. Despite giving routine dividends and bonuses to their executives, they regularly leak raw sewage into Chichester Harbour. It is simply wrong.”

According to the news source, the water supplier was hit with a record £126 million fine for spilling wastewater from its sewage plants into the environment. Industry regulatory body Ofwat has also criticised the company for misreporting its performance and the Environment Agency has started a criminal investigation into its actions.

A spokesman for Southern Water commented on this latest incident, saying: “We do not discharge even the heavily diluted storm flows into the nature reserve. It is important customers understand that storm releases are permitted by the Environment Agency.

“In many parts of the region for historical reasons our sewers are connected to the surface drain network. The alternative to storm releases would be widespread internal flooding of people’s homes.”

New research from Surfers Against Sewage has just revealed that water companies across England and Wales are routinely discharging raw and untreated sewage into waterways, with nearly 3,000 incidents taking place in waters between October 2019 and September 2020.

The charity’s latest Water Quality Report found that the UK missed hitting its target for its seas to meet Good Environmental Status. In addition, 86 per cent of England’s rivers and inland waterways failed to reach Good Ecological Status.

Other highlights of the report included a further 2,642 pollution risk warnings over the course of the 12 months, as well as sewage discharge notifications. Health risks mentioned in the survey included ear, nose and throat infections, eye infections, gastroenteritis and more serious long-term health conditions in some cases.

The call has now been made for nature-based solutions to come to the fore to help tackle the problem of sewage pollution, with more investment and targets implemented to restore natural habitats and reduce pressure on water systems.

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