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Southern Water pledges to slash sewage overflows into the Solent

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A WATER company has pledged to slash significantly the number of wastewater discharges in the Solent.

Over the next 10 years, Southern Water has vowed to reduce the number of combined sewage overflows (CSOs) by 80%, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It comes after the company was fined a record £90m for pumping sewage into the environment, including Beaulieu River.

Southern Water was fined over sewage discharges including into Beaulieu River
Southern Water was fined over sewage discharges including into Beaulieu River

Campaigners are calling for harsher penalties in the Environment Bill, which is going through the report stage in the House of Lords this week.

Dr Toby Willison, environment and corporate affairs director at Southern Water, said: "We are pleased the bill will require all water companies to maintain the same standards of openness and transparency we already have in place.

"We lead the industry in making near real-time information about CSO releases available to our customers at all 83 bathing waters and two recreational harbours in the region, through our online Beachbuoy service.

"We have recently modelled how we could reduce our reliance on CSOs by up to 80% in the next 10 years, because we want to lead the way towards creating healthier rivers and seas in the south-east, making them more accessible for people to enjoy and bringing social and economic benefit to our region.

"This builds on our existing commitment to reduce pollution incidents to less than 80 by 2025, compared to 430 in 2019."

Dr Willison added that sustainable drainage and water efficiency in homes is also important for the future of the sewage network.

Southern Water is investing a further £4bn until 2025 in a bid to improve the capacity and efficiency of its network.

It was taken over by Macquarie Asset Management last month, at which point a promise was made to reduce pollution incidents by more than 50%, compared with 2019, over the next four years.

Hampshire County Council has held discussions with Southern Water about how best to proceed.

Cllr Jan Warwick, cabinet member for climate change and sustainability, said: "We very much welcome the Environment Bill’s focus on tackling climate change and protection of the natural environment and while it will set the framework for what government wants delivered nationally, we await the detail that will follow in secondary legislation.

"The county council is already working with Southern Water and has discussed the issue of reducing storm water discharges."

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