Cap water company’s profits to end sewage saga

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For as long as we care to remember, raw sewage has gushed from the outfall pipe at Eastney when torrential rain hits Portsmouth.

The stinking slick of filth which poured from it into the Solent after Sunday’s storm is the latest incident and doubtless there will be more.

Perhaps there are some who will simply shrug their shoulders and say it’s better pumped into our sea than bursting up through manhole covers and flooding most of Southsea as happened in September 2000.

Yes, we all know that Portsmouth’s sewerage system is largely Victorian. We know the topography of Portsea Island means it slopes towards Eastney in that south-eastern corner and gravity takes our effluent and rain water to that area.

But in the 21st century surely to goodness we should expect a system befitting a so-called First World country rather than one more suited to the era of Charles Dickens?

Since that dark sewage-strewn day in 2000, Portsmouth has come a long way revitalising itself – moves which have seen it try to ditch its old, dirty industrial image to become one of a modern, vibrant and welcoming service-based city.

Yet, on a regular basis, our raw waste can be seen floating off our beaches.

As Dave Joliffe, the revolted secretary of Eastney Cruising Association, says: ‘Bathers must be unwittingly subjecting themselves to a serious risk to their health and the general environmental damage in such a sensitive location is potentially catastrophic.

‘The tourist and leisure industry is vital to this area and every effort should be made to ensure a clean and healthy environment for all water users.’

Southern Water points to the £20m it is spending diverting rain water away from some sewers.

In 2012-13 the company made a post-tax profit of £156.9m.

If regulator Ofwat was to drastically cap its profits because of incidents such these, we suspect it would not be long before the filth in the sea off Eastney became history.

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