Surfers belittle Southern Water which hopes to restore ruined reputation over Portsmouth sewage discharges
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Southern Water announced a £1.5bn Clean Rivers and Seas Plan today which aims to identify the cause of blockages and build ups. They aim to cut the number of emergency spills of sewage by 8,000 a year by 2035, but they still have work to do to persuade residents.
Josh Harris, communications chief at Surfers Against Sewage, has criticised the company over the cost of the plans being reflected in customer bills – branding the move as “outrageous”. He said: “Southern Water have overseen decades of mismanagement of our sewerage network, all the while paying the fat cats at the top huge pay and bonuses.
“Why should customers foot the bill?” The charity added that through its water monitoring app, Safer Seas and Rivers Service, which receives sewage alerts from water companies, Southern Water has issued 14,931 alerts this year.
Mr Harris added: “They are top tier polluters and we won’t fall for their empty promises, or let them continue to profit off the destruction of our rivers and seas.”
An interactive map has been published to allow people to check to show what Southern Water is doing to reduce overflows in their area. The company is investing £103m from the plan into local areas, with the installation of 7,000 household water butts and sustainable drainage systems in businesses, schools and care homes.
Areas which are being looked at include the north and west of the city where increased rainfall is getting into the network.
The action plan also covers the Fort Cumberland Stormwater Tanks and parts of Fareham, Gosport, Emsworth and Wickham. Southern Water said it has already invested heavily into improving the Budds Farm. The first phase of the plan will take place between 2025 and 2030.
Southern Water chief executive Lawrence Gosden said: “I’ve heard our customers’ concerns, and we take our impact on the environment seriously.
“We have a long-term strategy to 2050 that will restore and protect our regions’ rivers and coastal habitats and a large part of that will be to get to the root cause of storm overflows.”
Mr Gosden said the company “cannot simply switch storm overflows off”, but believes the plans will provide better environmental outcomes.