Water Industry News

Southern Water Pledges Infrastructure Investment To Protect Environment

Utility company Southern Water has pledged to make long-term investments in infrastructure to help protect the environment and reduce the risk of having to make emergency wastewater releases in the future, thus protecting the interests of local residents and businesses alike.


Back in June this year, it was reported that a pumping station was struck by lightning, which caused a major sewage leak into the sea, with seven beaches and 6km of coastline affected by the incident.


A power outage at the pumping station saw wastewater diverted through the outfall to stop it from backing up, protecting business properties and residences from internal flooding.


Following this, Southern Water has said it will now be working with Thanet District Council to better understand and address the challenges of climate change and drainage issues in the region.


Businesses have already been given a total of £16,000 in financial support from the utility company to cover the loss of income caused by the lightning strike and heavy rainfall. And the local council has agreed to accept £100,000 from the firm to make sure that public funds aren’t diverted from other local initiatives.


Southern Water chief executive Ian McAulay also committed an extra £400,000 to carry out a comprehensive drainage survey of the area, with planning already having begun.


This audit will cover the whole drainage system, taking into account pipes and networks owned by Southern Water, Kent County Council and Thanet District Council, as well as those in private ownership.


Mr McAulay said: “We recognise the expectations and opinions of society have significantly changed in recent years and that the emergency process, which is integral to the current system to protect homes and businesses from flooding, is one people feel very strongly about.


“This drainage survey signals the start of a closer working relationships which will benefit our customers, the environment and the local economy.”


Dr Toby Willison, Southern Water’s director of environment and corporate affairs, made further comments, saying that population growth and climate change have increased the risk of pollution in recent years and there is now “significant and growing demand” for water companies, politicians and others to take action.


Councillors are set to visit the Foreness Point pumping station in October, while the multiagency Bathing Water Steering Group has also been revived, with its next meeting due to be held in November.


Southern Water is also holding discussions about providing financial and practical support for local campaign groups and charities to ensure that local beaches are kept clean and free from litter.


And an independent power review is also being conducted to find ways to reduce the risk of the pumping station being affected by power outages in the future.


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