Calls for action over Southern Water’s sewage pollution of Langstone Harbour

POLLUTED Sewage is being pumped into Langstone Harbour

 By Jeff Travis
Published in the Portsmouth News on Monday 12th September 2011

PRESSURE is mounting on Southern Water to take immediate action to stop polluting Langstone Harbour.

Havant Borough Council will write to the firm to demand that action is taken as soon as possible to stop the illegal discharges from its pumping station at Fort Cumberland, Eastney.

Councillors are growing increasingly worried about the impact of the pollution and its possible impact on tourism and leisure businesses.

There are also fears it could affect Hayling Island’s coveted Blue Flag beach status.

As reported in The News, Southern Water has repeatedly allowed unscreened raw sewage to spew into the harbour.

The problem lies in the filters becoming blocked during periods of heavy rain when the pumps cannot cope with the sheer volume of water.

Southern Water was fined £50,000 in April for 36 illegal discharges last year and the Environment Agency is investigating the latest discharge in August.

Southern Water has said it cannot guarantee the problem will be fixed until 2015.

Councillors at Havant have got together to form a scrutiny task force to explore the issue.

They have agreed to monitor Fort Cumberland for the next four years to make sure the problem is tackled.

Andy Lenaghan, who leads the scrutiny committee, said: ‘We are trying to expedite the repairs as soon as possible.

‘It may be done more quickly, but it’s on their work programme for 2015.

‘It’s a case of bringing it forward as quickly as we can.

‘The attraction of Hayling is the Blue Flag and it’s very important we retain it.’

Environmentalists welcomed the council getting involved and said the pressure must be maintained.

Ray Cobbett, from Hampshire Friends of the Earth, said: ‘It’s absolutely right the council should be involved. A lot of people are continuing to be concerned about Southern Water.’

He added: ‘Langstone Harbour is one of the gems of this area. Obviously we all want to work together, but the council needs to make sure it means business.’

Southern Water has said it is looking for a long-term solution to the problem at Fort Cumberland – and is planning on ‘significant investment’. But it cannot be specific about when the work will be done.

Quality is rising – but there’s work still to be done

A NUMBER of interesting findings have been revealed by the council’s scrutiny of the pollution problems in Langstone Harbour.

Councillors spoke to experts from the Environment Agency, Southern Water and other bodies to investigate the issue.

The water quality in the harbour is in fact much better than it was several years ago, thanks to continued investment at Budds Farm water treatment plant.

Defra is working to reduce pollution, sources of which include run-off from roads, commercial areas, and farms, which account for around 80 per cent of water pollution.

Animal waste gets washed into the harbour from dogs, cows, and geese and in response Defra has launched a sensitive farming policy to try to keep cows away from the harbour.

Problems are also arising from a lack of building control. Households are often taking the easy option by using incorrect connections, with rainwater outlets on extensions and conservatories being diverted into the sewerage system.

Southern Water is also looking at introducing a storm separation scheme which will affect the flow of rainwater to Fort Cumberland.

This could reduce the flow to Fort Cumberland by 10 to 15 per cent and help alleviate the problem.

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