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Southern Water Solutions On The Table Following Latest Talks With Chichester MP

Southern Water are considering new sewage overflow solutions following intervention by Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan.

She's been a vocal critic of the discharges that took place in Chichester Harbour over December and January. 

Amongst the new steps being considered by the water company are state-of-the-art ultraviolet treatment facilities in sites near the Harbour, as well as further sewer relining projects to prevent discharges occurring in the first place. 

December and January saw more than 700 hours of discharges into Chichester Harbour, a situation MP Gillian called “hugely concerning” in her initial letter to Southern Water Chief Executive, Lawrence Gosden. The MP went on to explain that she expected to see “concrete commitments” from the company on its plan for improvement, something which has been at the centre of subsequent talks with the MP.

The impact of discharges into Chichester’s waters has been a persistent concern of local residents in recent years, with increased monitoring of sewer networks shedding new light on the practice. Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), the point at where most discharges occur, were first introduced into Britain’s sewer system during the Victorian times, as a mechanism for coping with periods of overcapacity during times of increased rainfall and groundwater infiltration.

The rollout of mandatory CSO monitoring in 2021 has led to mounting pressure on water companies to pivot away from the practice, however, with the Chichester MP amongst those pushing for alternative solutions to be found.

Gillian had a few words to share on the measures she has been been pushing for over the latest series of talks:

“As well as more transparent monitoring, there are two things I’ve made clear I want to see made a priority in Southern Water’s next wave of capital spending: UV treatment facilities in more of the discharge points around the Harbour and better sealing of the network.

"The Thornham discharge site is currently one of the only ones around the harbour still without UV treatment, and that can go a long way to reducing levels of harmful bacteria in the water - should the worst happen.

"Preventing discharges in the first place is obviously the priority, however, and modern sealing is absolutely critical in ensuring network capacity isn’t exceeded through groundwater infiltration.” She added.

Now, in a promising development, Southern Water have suggested they are open to looking at the changes.

In their latest position statement, Mr Gosden has stated the company will “consider options to capture more spot samples for prolonged spills in the future”, with UV treatment facilities around Shellfish Waters (like Chichester Harbour) and further sewer relining projects amongst the solutions being explored for their next Asset Management Plan, ‘AMP8’. 

If agreed with regulators, Environment Agency and OFWAT, the measures could form part of Southern Water’s upcoming investment plans for 2025 to 2030.

Gillian said she found the water company’s statement a “step in the right direction. It’s encouraging to hear that Southern Water are taking seriously the proposals I’ve laid out in recent weeks. 

The MP will be updating Chichester residents on the latest developments at Chichester Harbour and on Southern Water’s plans over on her website: https://www.gilliankeegan.com/ and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/conservatives.g.keegan/

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