Background. Disruption to our country roads can be a problem for us all. This is exacerbated at present because Southern Water (SW) is conducting ‘emergency works’ across several locations in the Parish. The problem is perhaps most acute in East Cholderton, on Wiremead Lane, where SW are using tankers to take away wastewater and traffic control measures are required, causing significant disruption, including light, noise and exhaust pollution felt most acutely by those living right by the pumping station. To date, local residents have worked tirelessly over the years to highlight to SW the extent of the disruption and to encourage solutions. SW has made matters worse by failing to communicate their intentions with their customers.
Role of the Parish Council. Amport Parish Council (APC) takes this issue seriously and is working with all the agencies that have a part to play. The role of APC in this context potentially is ‘joining the dots’ between local residents, SW, Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), Hampshire County Council (HCC) and the Environment Agency (EA).
Issues. Those that have endured the disruption to lives caused by major challenges to SW’s facilities in the Pillhill catchment area will know that this is a complex issue; a marathon, not a sprint. SW’s scope raises four main issues for local residents:
- Emergency works – such as tankering away water, traffic control at the sites and investment to ‘overpump’ water in to local streams/brooks, such as Pill Brook in East Cholderton.
- Water quality – through flood and drought and particularly when overpumping starts. The EA plays the key part here, agreeing standards with SW and (in this context) protecting the water quality along the length of the brook that might be affected by SW’s work.
- Highway repairs – including collapse of the highway and verges and damage to street furniture. HCC has the main part to play in agreeing with SW the scope and standard of such works (road closures and reinstatement of the highway).
- Major Capital Investment – The longer-term resolution of the problem lies in SW agreeing major capital investment to resolve major sewage issues in the Pillhill water catchment area (affecting a number of villages in the local area).
 Even the term ‘emergency works’ is a misnomer, since such temporary works in flood and drought have been required for many years.
 The collapse of the White Horse pub wall into the road and repairs required to reinstate it may require careful coordination.
- Emergency Work. Whilst tankers are deployed across local villages, the resolution of the problem in the Parish rests with the installation of Ultra Violet (UV) filtration system at the East Cholderton (Mullenspond) site. SW installed the UV system and it was successfully tested and commissioned during the week commencing 8 Mar 21. SW hope now to start removing wastewater by overpumping in to Pill Brook. If EA provide agreement to overpumping, SW will remove the tankers.
- Water Quality. Overpumping at Mullenspond by SW directly into Pill Brook potentially holds water quality issues for all areas below site, including local residents immediately adjacent, and the Trout Farm and Amport village downstream. Water testing to EA standards is required before the new pump can operate. The Environment Agency (EA) gave agreement to overpump in to Pill Brook for a trial period (29/30 March) and the EA will assess the results; Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) will monitor the results.
- Highway Repairs. SW are in discussion with HCC about the best way to effect essential road repairs caused by SW’s works; it may be that they can do that in parallel with water testing – it appears that HCC are interested in getting them started shortly. Traffic lights may need to be in place during the road repairs. Their scope should be to reinstate the highway (not widen it) and repair or reinstate the street furniture. In the longer-term, HCC must resolve the highway challenges at East Cholderton, where heavier and wider traffic (industrial and farm vehicles mainly) and flooding of the highway cause challenges that can only be resolved by significant work to the highway.
- Major Capital Investment. It is clear that overpumping is not the solution to SW’s problems and tankers may again be required in conditions of flood or drought. We will continue to press SW, TVBC and HCC for a longer-term resolution to the Pillhill catchment area’s challenges and SW indicate that they have started to develop potential solutions, particularly focused on repairs to their infrastructure from Kimpton to East Cholderton and elsewhere locally.
31 Mar 21