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Southern Water Failures

Southern Water's 2019 £126 million fine for penalties following serious failures in their sewage treatment sites (Ofwat & online national papers) does not seem to have helped enhance Budds Farm improvement of its sewage management nor the all too frequent failures of Hayling's sewage system. I understand that a 2.8km pipeline on Hayling is due for replacement but meanwhile we not only have to contend with expected deluge from above but its consequent flooding from below. Breakdowns earlier this week affecting Fishery Lane & Selsmore resulted apparently from the failure of 2 local pumping stations with about 15 tankers needed to ferry the sewage waste off Hayling. This has become the standard for Hayling's weak waste-water infrastructure.

One resident who complained about the recent sewage discharge onto Southmoor Nature Reserve on the edge of Langstone Harbour earlier this week, received this reply from HBC Environmental Control about the sewage flowing into Langstone Harbour:

Thank you for your email. The Council is aware of the recent discharge, and understands that Southern Water is confident that the discharge was fully compliant with the terms of their environmental permit. The discharge resulted from an unusual volume of rainfall in the locality, overwhelming the combined sewage system. If the discharge was not made to the harbour waters, the sewage system would have surcharged on land, into streets and gardens.

I appreciate that the harbour waters are still in use by recreational users, but I’m afraid that there are no legislative controls to protect the health of recreational users, whether within the bathing season or without. There is always an increased risk of discharges outside the bathing season, and recreational users would be advised to observe the usual precautionary advice to avoid entering the water for upto 72hrs following significant rainfall.

Given the status of the receiving waters, and the time of year, the Council has no regulatory tools available to address harbour water quality. The legality of the discharge is a matter for the Environment Agency to determine in it’s capacity as the regulator for the purposes of Southern Water’s environmental permit(s).

In terms of the severity of the incident, you may or may not have been made aware that the image you have forwarded to us has been enhanced with a ‘contrast adjustment to define the faecal plume’ (quote understood to be from the photographer). The Council is unclear as to the extent or mode of adjustment (i.e. whole image or selective, whole spectrum or selective etc,), and for this reason would not consider the image to represent a reliable representation of the degree of pollution. I am also aware that the image was taken in the vicinity of a breach in privately owned sea defences, and so discolouration of water could be the result of entrained sediments – especially if taken on an ebb tide.

I have followed up with a number of interested parties today, including our Communications team, the Environment Agency, Southern Water Services, and the Coastal Partners. I understand that the Leader & Deputy leader of the Council have been kept appraised of the situation, alongside the local MP the hon. Alan Mak.

Best Regards,

Jonathan Driver Environmental Control Officer

Havant Borough Council Environmental Health Public Service Plaza, Civic Centre Road, Havant, Hants PO9 2


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