MP tells Southern Water to 'clean up its act' with sewage system 'not fit for purpose' after parts of Portsmouth swamped by floodwater

AN MP has blasted the city’s sewage system as ‘not fit for purpose’ after several areas were left swamped by floodwater – wreaking havoc to neighbourhoods.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 8:34 am

Southern Water has been told to ‘clean up its act’ after Portsmouth was left reeling after being battered by lightning, heavy rain, and strong winds in the early hours of Tuesday morning and Sunday.

Streets were left flooded with overflowing sewers leaving behind toilet paper, excrement and dead rodents.

Residents in Salisbury Road, Cosham, were left dealing with repeated flooding since Sunday afternoon’s sudden torrential downpours.

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Flooding at Station Road, Drayton again. Picture: Courtesy of Mark Brooks

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Heavy rains saw the sodden neighbours out in the road to stop traffic and try to keep rising waters from their front doors on Sunday and Monday.

Northern Parade was also among the worst affected while parts of Drayton and Clarence Pier were also badly hit – as was Ocean Retail Park which saw a number of stores have to close.

Now Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, is calling for action. He said: ‘I’ve seen first-hand the flooding in our city this week which underlines that Portsmouth’s sewage system is not fit for purpose, but we’ve known this for some time.

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

‘Southern Water has got to clean up its act. But as I raised in my letter to the minister last week, it is the government that has allowed local sewage infrastructure to deteriorate by failing to hold the water utility to account.

‘We need a water system that is ready to respond to the climate crisis and that puts customers first, not shareholders.’

In his letter last week to MP Rebecca Pow, parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Mr Morgan pointed out how the Environment Agency’s (EA) latest report revealed Southern Water was ‘one of the worst environmentally performing water companies in England’.

He continued: ‘This is the second year in a row Southern Water has performed below target, with the EA labelling Southern Water’s performance as “consistently unacceptable during the last five years” in its environmental performance report for 2020.

Stephen Morgan at Portsmouth Guildhall. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘It also said the water utility was “significantly below target for the Environmental Performance Assessment sewerage incidents”.’

The MP said he was told by the firm there ‘are currently no projects planned by Southern Water to improve treatment or increase capacity at Budds Farm wastewater treatment facility within this asset management cycle’.

Mr Morgan urged Southern Water to stop ‘stalling’ on Budds Farm and sought assurances from the company that ‘government money handed is being used effectively’.

Meanwhile Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt was planning to visit residents, councillors and representatives from Southern Water on Wednesday evening.

After holding preliminary talks with Southern Water, she said: ‘During my discussions with the company it appears that the pumping station and other contingencies were working OK.

‘However, there is something that (keeps) going wrong and permits sewage to (get) affected by surface water.’

Drayton resident Mark Brooks, who lives on Station Road, said: 'We were woken by thunder and lightning at 2,30am and the rain just didn’t stop. I looked out of the window and couldn’t believe the road was flooded again. It was like a river coming down the road.

'I was really concerned about my son and daughter and the cars. Our house got off lightly as we are a bit higher than our poor neighbours opposite. We had water up to our step but they had water in their houses and garages. Even friends in Central Road Drayton were flooded and had sewage in their house.'

Southern Water was approached for comment.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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