CAMPAIGNERS have backed a council’s call for a new sewer to cut down on sewage spills and pollution at a coastal beauty spot.
The leader of Portsmouth City Council has put pressure on Southern Water to build a facility to serve the north of the city and improve the condition of Langstone Harbour.
Currently, untreated sewage from across Portsmouth is filtered into the water during times of high pressure, including storm and heavy rainfall.
But the authority has called for a new sewer to reduce the volume of waste dumped – which would allow matter from areas such as Cosham to travel directly to Southern Water’s Havant treatment centre, without journeying to and from a pumping station at Eastney as it does now.
Campaigner Mark Coates, who has strong links to the harbour-using Hayling Ferry, said he is ‘definitely’ behind the plea launched by PCC leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.
‘There has long been an ominous silence from people in positions of power not willing to take on this problem,’ Mr Coates said.
‘But this call is a big step from the council, made for residents, to try and find a solution which is more than long overdue – for residents and holidaymakers who both use the harbour.’
Ptol Flattery, from Hayling Island, uses the harbour up to six times each week for water sport and has done for the past 27 years.
The 52-year-old said: ‘When I’m out paddle boarding I can sometimes see the sewage – it’s about 10 to 20ft wide, goes on for a mile and makes you sick if you fall into it.
‘I’ve wanted that sewage to at least be treated before it goes in for years, so I’m in favour of anything to sensibly deal with this issue.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Last year Southern Water released sewage into Langstone Harbour 29 times – we've specifically asked them to review this.
‘We're working with them to agree a way forward which protects our local environment. Building a new sewer to serve the north of the city would significantly reduce the amount of waste going to Eastney pumping station and the need to discharge into the harbour.’
In response to Cllr Vernon-Jackson’s plea, Southern Water has dubbed pollution in the harbour an ‘emotive issue’ which it is ‘committed to minimising’.
A spokesperson said: ‘During or following rainfall all water companies, including Southern Water, sometimes release heavily-diluted wastewater into watercourses and coastal waters to prevent flooding of streets and homes inland. These storm water releases are permitted by the Environment Agency.
‘Of the 49 outfalls that release storm water into the harbour, five are owned by us and the releases from them are regulated and permitted.
‘We have spent more than £50 million in recent years to reduce the risk of flooding and the frequency of our releases in this area.
‘In regards to any significant future investment, we will work closely with the council, local residents and other interested parties to ensure we’re delivering the best possible solution as well as offering value for money for our customers.’