Havant MP Alan Mak calls on Portsmouth Water to reduce and eliminate River Ems abstractions

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Havant MP Alan Mak is calling on Portsmouth Water to reduce and eliminate River Ems abstractions

The river, which flows through Emsworth, has previously run dry during summer months.

In a letter to Portsmouth Water Chief Executive Robert Taylor, Mr Mak says the potential loss of unique habitats along the river “would represent a profound loss to biodiversity”.

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Portsmouth Water produced the River Ems River Baseline Report last December, which called for greater monitoring of the Ems.

Alan Mak at the River EmsAlan Mak at the River Ems
Alan Mak at the River Ems

However, the MP argues that this does not go far enough.

Mr Mak has called on the company to take steps to reduce the environmental impact of abstractions from the Ems, produce interim measures to minimise the impact of abstractions on the Ems and its ecosystem, and develop a long-term plan to limit and eventually eliminate abstractions from the Ems entirely.

The source of the River Ems is not located in the Havant constituency – and the abstractions do not take place there either.

However, the Ems does flow through the constituency and meets the sea in the town of Emsworth. In recent years, water levels in the river have reduced significantly to the point where it has on occasions run dry.

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The river is one of only 200 chalk streams in the world and supports land based and aquatic wildlife.

In response, Mr Taylor has acknowledged the public’s concerns but states that abstractions are not from the River Ems itself. He has assured the MP that Portsmouth Water are providing funds to survey the Ems and developing a 10-year Catchment Improvement Plan to safeguard local habitats.

The company has also pledged to reduce leaks and wastage from their pipes and water treatment works to reduce the need for abstractions.

Portsmouth Water are in the process of constructing the Havant Thicket Reservoir in partnership with others, which it is hoped will reduce the need for dependency on local aquafers and rivers.

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Water abstraction is the process of taking water from any source – usually natural such as aquafers and streams – either temporarily or permanently.

In the case of Portsmouth Water, most of this water is abstracted outside the Havant constituency and is used for irrigation or is treated to produce drinking water.

Mr Mak is working closely with Richard Kennett and Lulu Bowerman, the Havant Borough Councillors representing Emsworth, on this issue.

The MP said: “The River Ems represents a unique ecosystem which is home to multiple rare habitats and species.

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"Its destruction would represent a profound loss of biodiversity.

"That is why I am calling on Portsmouth Water to cease its abstraction in the river in the long term, and to take actions which will reduce the environmental effects of their activities on the local environment.”

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