A package of investment and an offer to host a summit of senior leaders aimed at helping to improve the water quality and important natural habitats of Chichester and Langstone Harbours is being announced by Ian McAulay, CEO of Southern Water today.
Part of the investment is a new £5m environmental improvement fund. Central to the company’s commitment to the harbours is an undertaking that a proportion of this £5m will be invested with partners on initiatives that deliver both nature-based solutions and environment net-gain for both harbours.
This announcement follows a series of top level meetings with local campaigners and political leaders including Gillian Keegan MP for Chichester and Alan Mak MP for Havant.
Southern Water is investing £1.7 billion over the next four years across the south-east to improve the capacity and efficiency of the waste water network and reduce the number of releases from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).
This includes £13 million to be invested to improve instrumentation and data capture that further reduces the risk to the environment from storm overflows, including at Budds Farm, which releases into Langstone Harbour.
A major £6.5 million scheme to reduce groundwater infiltration into the vast Chichester sewer network is also planned. Every drop of groundwater that can be kept out of the network reduces the need for storm overflows.
This investment builds on the £3.2 billion Southern Water has already spent since 2015 to improve and maintain its assets across the south-east. Action already taken to reduce the contribution that wastewater treatment works make to nutrient enrichment in the harbours includes:
• A 90 per cent reduction in the nitrates going from wastewater treatments works into the harbours. These works now contribute less than 10 per cent of the overall nitrate levels in the harbours and all operate within nitrate permit conditions.
• CSOs contribute just one per cent to the nitrates in the harbours and all works operate well within nitrate permit conditions.
• Creating one of the few CSOs in the UK with UV treatment to sterilise storm releases at Chichester.
• An online storm release notification system, Beachbuoy that helps our customers and partners by providing near real time information about CSO activity at designated bathing waters and recreational watercourses. Beachbuoy will cover all 83 designated bathing waters and Chichester Harbour and Langstone Harbour by the end of May.
• A roll out of Event Duration Monitoring (EDM) technology across 98 per cent of the network since 2017 to build a clearer and more detailed picture of the use of CSOs, that helps to target future investment and operational activity. Further investment to ensure 100 per cent coverage by 2025 is in place. Southern Water led the industry in the roll out of EDM technology.
• One of the first published Pollution Incident Reduction Plans (PIRP) which details a programme of activities to deliver a sustainable reduction in pollution incidents.
Ian McAulay said: “Saving the internationally important and threatened habitats at Chichester and Langstone harbours is incredibly important to us, our customers and our stakeholders. We are absolutely committed to playing our part by reducing the harm to the harbours’ waters from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).”
He added: “Our new £5m environmental improvement fund, as part of our overall spending plans for 2021/22 and beyond, clearly demonstrates Southern Water’s commitment to being an active and involved member of the newly formed Chichester Harbour Protection & Recovery of Nature group (CHaPRoN). This emerging group is a very welcome and positive step forward in forging a powerful partnership to save our harbours.
“Working together with a shared action plan we truly believe we can make significant strides to improve the water quality of our harbours, this will benefit the environment, water users and support the local economy.
“As part of our commitment to working within this partnership, we are offering to host a summit of senior leaders at which I hope we will agree a shared action plan."