Climate change and population growth could lead to rise in floods and pollution University of Portsmouth study states

CLIMATE change and population growth are putting pressure on wastewater treatment works leading to the possibility of increased flooding and pollution, according to new research.

Thursday, 4th August 2022, 2:00 pm

Monitoring of water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) at Southern Water and Thames Valley water companies has found changes in the environment and population are putting them under ‘extreme stress’.

The study, published in Water Research, carried out with the University of Portsmouth, found that incidents of flooding and pollution were believed to be linked to periods of higher rainfall intensity and extended dry periods.

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Residents of Salisbury Road in Cosham are calling for urgent action after flooding has hit their street. Jonah Ford stands in the flood. Picture: Lucy Heard

The findings have helped the water companies use instrument data to respond to real-life stressors and extreme weather events.

Lead author of the paper, Tim Holloway, from the university’s school of civil engineering and surveying, said: ‘Improving asset and infrastructure resilience is a significant challenge for the water industry as operational disruptions caused by stressors become more common and difficult to predict.

‘As we face significant political, social and environmental uncertainty, water companies and government agencies are forced to manage complex and dynamic changes in resilience to events outside of their control.

‘If we continue on the same path, it is extremely likely that we will experience more severe pollution events due to new and rapidly emerging stressors on wastewater systems.

Flooding around Langstone on Tuesday 7th December 2021

‘This could result in inland flooding, flood and storm damage in coastal areas, and damages to infrastructure.’

Portsmouth Water announced they are not planning to impose a hosepipe ban this summer.

This comes after Southern Water announced a Temporary Use Ban (TUB) across parts of Hampshire, following reduced rainfall over the last six months.