SOUTHERN Water has promised to fix the pumping station that has caused pollution problems in Langstone Harbour.
Work is set to begin next year on improving Fort Cumberland at Eastney.
The water firm initially said it could not guarantee the improvements would be completed until 2015.
But bosses have now confirmed the work – costing £10m – is set to begin in the autumn of next year.
It should bring an end to raw sewage being pumped into the harbour whenever there is heavy rainfall.
As reported in The News Southern Water was fined £50,000 in April for 36 illegal discharges last year from the outfall pipe in Eastney.
The problem lies in the filters becoming blocked during periods of heavy rain when the pumps cannot cope with the volume of water.
Havant Borough Council recently wrote to the company demanding that action was taken as soon as possible.
Environmentalists today welcomed the announcement from Southern Water.
Ray Cobbett, from Emsworth, co-ordinator for Hampshire Friends of the Earth, said: ‘I am delighted they have responded to the outside pressure that has been put on them by the Environment Agency and the public. Actions speak louder than words.
‘People will be really encouraged when they see work actually happening.
‘The bottom line is it’s not before time. We have been waiting a long time for this.’
Local county councillor Ann Buckley, who has been following the problems over the last few years, added: ‘It is pleasing that Southern Water has both apologised and responded to pressure and brought the date forward to start this work at Fort Cumberland next year.’
Southern Water officials said the work is expected to be finished by 2013.
Spokeswoman Leilah Nicola said: ‘Southern Water takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and we’re working on a long-term solution to resolve the problems with the screens at Fort Cumberland.
‘Detailed design of the scheme is under way, which will reduce the force of the flows that enter Fort Cumberland during heavy rainfall and the amount of debris that hits the screens.
‘This will prevent the screens from failing, stopping these materials from entering the sea.
‘This a complex scheme and our design engineers need to ensure the site can still operate during construction.
‘Water companies plan their capital work in five-year periods.
‘We’re currently part-way through the 2010-15 investment period.’
She added: ‘In addition, we’re designing a £20m scheme to divert rainwater from the city’s sewers, which will ease the pressure on the system during storms. Construction is due to start next year.’