Improvements are welcome, but they’re long overdue

Don't worry children, it won't hurt a bit...

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Anybody who’s been down to Eastney recently may have wondered why cranes are towering over Fort Cumberland.

Well today we reveal the reason – and it’s most definitely good news.

The cranes are an extremely visible sign that, at last, work is taking place on an outfall pipe as part of a project that should transform Portsmouth’s ageing sewer system and lead to a cleaner Langstone Harbour.

If you’ll excuse the pun, changes called for over many years are finally in the pipeline.

Portsmouth may seek to portray itself as a modern, go-ahead place these days.

But beneath our feet the city’s sewers have been carrying both wastewater and rainwater for more than a century.

This has meant leaks into the harbour during heavy rain, causing understandable pollution fears.

But a £20m project will see up to 6,000 litres of rainwater per second diverted into new sewers that pump only rainwater into the sea.

Work in Tangier Road should be finished by the end of the year, with improvements at Eastney due for completion in early 2015.

And that’s not all.

Environmental concerns are also being addressed by the modernisation of storm tanks and screens at Fort Cumberland, while pumps at Eastney pumping station are being revamped.

An early warning system will alert the company whenever a big storm is coming.

We trust all these improvements will mean an end to raw sewage being pumped into the harbour whenever there is heavy rain because the system cannot cope with the sheer volume of water.

In this day and age, that is unacceptable.

Southern Water has been called to account before over harbour pollution and fined heavily.

It has taken plenty of flak from those who believe it should already have invested in better management of waste water and rainwater.

But we think the company does deserve some credit for, eventually, committing funds to work that should make a real difference.