A HUGE reservoir to ease water shortages may not be built for another 25 years, it has emerged.
Portsmouth Water has put back its plans to build a £36m reservoir at Havant Thicket, a stretch of woodland and fields between Havant and Rowlands Castle.
The company initially proposed to start construction in 2015, with the reservoir being completed by 2021.
But it has now announced that it could be built between 2025 and 2035 – and only if it is justified.
The reservoir proposals have been fraught with delays after the government told the company to go back to the drawing board on devising its Water Resources Management Plan – a blueprint on how to meet customers’ water requirements for the next 25 years.
During the rethink, water bosses concluded that plans to introduce metering from 2015 and reducing pipe leakages would mean less water being used – thus decreasing the need for a reservoir.
All the water in the Portsmouth and Havant area currently comes from underground springs in Havant.
But some community leaders said a reservoir is needed sooner rather than later to prepare for climate change.
Marge Harvey, councillor for Rowlands Castle, said: ‘I think water is something we are always going to need.
‘It’s a bit short-sighted. I have been with this from the beginning.
‘In my opinion they have done huge amounts of work on it. I find it incredible we are talking about climate change and we are not preparing for it.’
The reservoir, holding more than eight million cubic metres of water, would include leisure activities and a nature reserve.
But environmentalists welcomed the delay as it could destroy natural habitat.
Co-ordinator for Hampshire Friends of the Earth Ray Cobbett, said: ‘A reservoir should be a last resort.’
Andy Neve, engineering director at Portsmouth Water, said: ‘This reduction in the amount of water required to supply our customers has resulted in the reservoir not been required until later in the planning period.
‘The company believes that the reservoir is a viable option.’
to secure water supplies into the future and it will enhance the local environment. ‘