All systems go for revamp to end pollution woes

HEAVY DUTY Southern Water works at Fort Cumberland, Eastney, to prevent sewage waters flowing into Langstone Harbour. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132854-147)
HEAVY DUTY Southern Water works at Fort Cumberland, Eastney, to prevent sewage waters flowing into Langstone Harbour. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132854-147)

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A CLEANER harbour is finally on the cards as more than £30m is being spent on improving Portsmouth’s Victorian sewer system.

Cranes towering over Eastney’s Fort Cumberland – which features an outfall pipe that has been the main source of pollution – are a sure sign that improvements are on the way for Langstone Harbour.

For years, raw sewage has been pumped into the harbour whenever there is heavy rain because storm tanks at Eastney Pumping Station cannot cope with the volume of water rushing in.

During storms, unscreened sewage has been pumped to the pipe at Fort Cumberland and into the harbour – a serious offence that saw Southern Water being fined £150,000 two years ago.

But work has now started, to the tune of £10m, on preventing the leaks.

A piling rig at Fort Cumberland is modernising the storm tanks and screens and pumps at Eastney pumping station are being revamped.

An early warning system will alert the company whenever a big storm is coming.

Meanwhile, a £20m revamp is well under way on the sewers.

For over a century, the city’s sewers have carried both wastewater and rainwater – leading to leaks into the harbour during heavy rain.

The project will see large amounts of rainwater – up to 6,000 litres per second – diverted away from the combined sewers and into new sewers that pump only rainwater into the sea.

The main work in Tangier Road, where 630 metres of rainwater sewer is being built, should be finished by the end of the year, with the work at Eastney due for completion in early 2015.

Ray Cobbett, co-ordinator for Hampshire Friends of The Earth, said: ‘There’s been strong pressure from the community to do something about this for years. If these cranes mean something serious is going to happen, then it has to be welcomed. It’s long overdue investment.’

He added: ‘The question is will it work? That’s the jam in the sandwich. We have to take it on trust that it will.’

Jon Kenrick, Southern Water’s project manager, said: ‘We are investing heavily in Portsmouth and the benefits should be seen long into the future.’