NATIONAL park authority officials have been urged to “keep an eye” on incidents of waste water overflowing into streams after effluent was spotted near Lyndhurst.
NPA member Anne Sevier said the issue must be monitored after sewage was spotted near the Southern Water waste water treatment works off the A35 after heavy rain last month.
“I do think that if we are going to have problems here this is something we do need to keep an eye on,” Ms Sevier said at a recent meeting of the NPA’s resources, audit and performance committee meeting.
Her comments followed the discovery by Russell Wynn, one of the founders of Wild New Forest, who told the A&T he had been walking through Mallard Wood towards the upper Beaulieu River when he noticed the “distinctive and unpleasant” smell of effluent.
Southern Water has admitted that “heavily-diluted” wastewater had gone into the river but insisted it was within permitted levels.
Mr Wynn explained: “When I arrived at the riverbank, the flow was fast and a dirty brown colour, with an oily slick visible at the surface in places.”
He returned three days later to look for evidence of any lingering pollution once the water had subsided.
He said: “The area immediately downstream of the works still had a detectable smell of effluent and there were several areas upstream of debris dams where a surface slick was present on the water surface.
“It’s obviously also an important tourist destination, especially this year, with lots of visitors paddling in the apparently pristine rivers and streams.”
At the NPA committee meeting last week, the authority’s head of environment and rural economy, Paul Walton, said it was “doing a lot of work around this area” but did not have regulatory powers.
These are held by the Environmental Agency and he pledged the NPA would continue to “engage” with it and Southern Water. He said the NPA had been told by the agency that the water company had not broken any rules relating to discharge in the wake of storm events.
A Southern Water spokesperson told the A&T: “As a result of the heavy rainfall in Hampshire recently storm water releases – heavily-diluted screened and settled wastewater including rainwater and road run-off – were discharged from our Lyndhurst wastewater treatment works on August 19th and 20th.
“These releases were within the Environment Agency permitted consent of the site.”