Campaign under way to protect our water supply

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A MAJOR campaign has been launched to protect millions of litres of groundwater from pollution.

Every day 28 underground springs in Havant provide 50m litres of safe drinking water to 225,000 people in the Portsmouth and Havant areas.

But experts at the Environment Agency and Portsmouth Water say too often the groundwater is being contaminated.

The main culprit is oil, particularly spillages from oil tanks used for heating properties, as well as pesticides and solvents, such as paint stripper.

The sources can be either businesses or homes and in large quantities, the spillages can cost tens of thousands of pounds to clean up.

The most vulnerable areas for contamination are Horndean and Havant town centre as here the springs are just a few feet below the ground.

Groundwater specialist at the Environment Agency Dawn O’Neill said: ‘It’s a new initiative. It’s been set up to reflect the fact that three-quarters of the drinking water in this area comes from groundwater which people don’t often realise.

‘Particularly in the Havant and Horndean areas we have got some vulnerable areas where if any oils or solvents are accidentally spilled to ground, they can percolate down, and potentially reach the springs in a short space of time.

‘There’s limited time to do anything and while Portsmouth Water has measures in place to stop any contaminated water getting into the supply, we would much rather raise awareness of these vulnerable areas.’

Portsmouth Water treats all water so it is safe to drink. But experts said they would rather stop pollution incidents and keep bills low as more treatment to the water will mean higher bills.

The motto of the campaign is ‘what goes in the ground comes around’.

Water quality scientist for Portsmouth Water Shelley Williams said: ‘If the water needs more treatment the bills go up. Other suppliers have higher bills because they have more treatment processes.

‘It’s not necessarily that there have been a lot more contaminations. We have had these incidents over a period of years.

‘This is about trying to be proactive and preventative, rather than just dealing with the incidents as they happen.’

For information on The Havant and Bedhampton Pollution Prevention Campaign email water quality@portsmouthwater.co.uk or call the Environment Agency’s Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60.