Council’s bid to tackle sewage dumping in harbour

'ENOUGH is enough' the council has said when it comes to the dumping of sewage in Langstone Harbour.

Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 10:37 pm
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 10:15 am
The Environment Agency has investigated releases of storm water into Langstone Harbour

Portsmouth councillors approved a motion to try to work with Southern Water in a bid to prevent storm water being released into the harbour, which previously sparked an investigation by the Environment Agency.

Speaking at full council environment boss, Councillor Dave Ashmore, said: 'This motion is a very important one. It's not about bashing a company, it's about working constructively with a local company, Southern Water, and the stakeholders about the concerns of the sewage going into Langstone Harbour.

'There was a motion in 2015 that was cross-party backed, which shows how long the problem has been going on for. I want something constructive to come out of this.'

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As a result the council's environment scrutiny panel will also consider carrying out reviews on emptying sewage into the harbour.

It comes after 378 cubic metres, the equivalent of 378,000 litres, of discharge was released into the water last summer after a ‘serious electrical fault’ at a wastewater treatment plant.

In 2017 there were also 29 recorded incidents of waste being let into the harbour.

An Environment Agency spokesperson confirmed Southern Water was still under investigation, and said: 'There are a number of investigations concerning discharges into Langstone Harbour, for legal reasons we are unable to share any further information about these as they are still ongoing.

But Paul Linwood, wastewater policy manager at Southern Water, explained why storm water had been let into the harbour. 'These releases are made as a last resort in order to protect homes and businesses in Portsmouth from flooding,' he said.

'We have spent more than £50m in recent years to reduce their impact and frequency.

'During heavy rain we, like other water companies, are permitted by the Environment Agency to release storm water, if the water is at risk of causing flooding. Storm water is a highly diluted mixture of rain and wastewater from kitchens and bathrooms and is screened to remove solids.

'We have had regular meetings with the council to discuss the situation and have reassured them that, in the last decade, Portsmouth’s sewer network has benefitted from a greater level of investment than that of any other town or city across our region.

'For example, our £20m surface water separation scheme, our enhancements to Eastney pumping station and our £14m modifications to Fort Cumberland, which have reduced flood risk to once in 76 years – greater than the one-in-30-year industry standard.'

Anyone who believes they have witnessed environmental pollution on land or in waterways is urged to call the Environment Agency for free on 0800 80 70 60.