COMMENT: Councillors discussing Havant reservoir plan need to bear in mind the bigger picture

It's easy to take the supply of fresh water for granted. Every day, we turn the taps on and just expect it to be there for drinking or washing.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 12:00 am

But what if that provision of one of the basic necessities of life was put under threat?

It's a scenario that Portsmouth Water knows it has to avoid - hence its plans to build a reservoir at Havant Thicket that it says would secure vital water supplies for future generations.

The company is already dealing with the effects of climate change, the need to take less from sensitive sources and pressure from the acceleration of housebuilding in the south.

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It has reduced leakage levels and promotes ways we can all save water. But that's not going to be anywhere near enough.

The idea is that the reservoir and a new pipeline would allow a transfer of up to 21 million litres a day to be made from other sources further west in Hampshire, ensuring uninterrupted supplies in the Portsmouth area and also protecting the county's world-famous chalk streams of the River Test and River Itchen.

So far, so good. But in order to build the reservoir, Portsmouth Water says it will have to remove trees - and that has angered environmental campaigners, who claim the reservoir would have a ‘devastating’ impact on woodland and wildlife in the area.

We understand where they're coming from. Development across this part of Hampshire has already robbed us of many acres of greenery. They see this as one more assault on nature.

But there's an important distinction. Portsmouth Water is not a housebuilder making a profit from turning fields into estates. It's a utility company serving the public.

The company says a reservoir is desperately needed. It considered more than 70 potential sites, but for various reasons the others weren’t suitable.

Councillors need to bear in mind the bigger picture when they consider plans that are ultimately for the benefit of us all.