'System failure' meant Southern Water discharged wastewater six times in one day into Langstone Harbour

DILUTED sewage was pumped into a harbour six times in one day over the weekend, following a system failure.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 5:42 pm

Southern Water made six discharges totalling nearly four hours from its Kirtley Close Drayton overflow point into Langstone Harbour on Sunday, April 25.

The water company says these discharges are made after periods of heavy rainfall – which have not occurred for more than a month.

Environmental campaigner from Hayling Sewage Watch, Mike Owens, said: ‘As there has been no heavy rain for over a month and a half it is highly likely that these discharges contain raw untreated sewage.

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A Southern Water bill. Picture: Chris Ison/PA Wire

‘It simply isn’t acceptable that water users – swimmers, sailors, windsurfers, kite surfers – are putting their health at risk because of Southern Water’s failure to invest in a sewage treatment system that can meet the demands of the region’s growing population.

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‘It’s time for CEO Ian McAulay and his board at Southern Water to step up and move from talking about improving monitoring systems to fixing the fundamental failings of their sewage processing infrastructure.’

Southern Water has faced criticism in the past over its handling of stormwater releases into Langstone Harbour, between Hayling Island and Portsmouth.

Designed to prevent flooding during periods of heavy rainfall, the combined sewage system has presented plenty of challenges for the company.

While the releases go through a screening process on the way to the harbour, the murky water that comes out is seen by many as a cause for concern.

Southern Water says a system failure is to blame for the incident.

Dr Nick Mills, head of pollution and flooding resilience, said: ‘A release of wastewater from a combined sewer overflow connected to our Drayton water pumping station happened as a result of a control system failure.

‘We are sorry that on this occasion, there has been an emergency release and we are fully committed to learning the lessons.

‘A full investigation is currently under way to understand the reason for the release and reduce the risk in future. As this incident demonstrates, there are no secret releases by Southern Water. They are all reported and we are fully accountable for them.

‘Our job is to make things better. This is what we are committed to and investing in, across the region as well as in Langstone Harbour.’

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