Amport Village

Southern Water Operations in Amport Parish

Brief for the Amport Parish Website1, last updated 21 April 2021

Background. Disruption to our country roads can be a problem for us all. This has been exacerbated where Southern Water (SW) is conducting ‘emergency works’ which requires water tankers working across several locations in the area. The problem in the Parish is perhaps most acute in East Cholderton, on Wiremead Lane. 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. This brief provides information relevant at the time of editing. We use the Monxton & Amport Villages Facebook site for more regular dialogue.

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, other Parish Council’s affected by SW’s operations2 , Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), the Environment Agency (EA) and Hampshire County Council (HCC).

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 works3 ’ such as tankering away wastewater, traffic control at the sites and ‘over pumping’ water into local streams/brooks, such as Pillhill Brook in East Cholderton.
– Water quality, through flood and drought and particularly when over pumping 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)4 .
– 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).

  • Emergency Work. Heavy rain can cause the ingress of groundwater into SW’s sewers and flooding of rainwater and wastewater in a noxious mix. SW use tankers to take the excess of wastewater for treatment at their Fullerton Water Treatment site and have recently deployed over pumping to release wastewater into the Brook.
  • Tankering. SW had been using tankers on Wiremead Lane. Traffic control measures were required, together causing significant disruption, including light, noise and exhaust pollution felt most acutely by those living right by the pumping station. Shortly after over pumping began, tankering operations ceased. However, SW argue that tankering may also be required in conditions of drought. We will test this assumption but we may yet see tankers return through the summer (they were deployed in June 2020). We have told SW that we want tanker operations to stop.
  • Overpumping. The EA provide agreement to over pumping, which began during the week 12 Apr 21. An Ultraviolet (UV) filtration system began operation at the East Cholderton (Mullenspond) site.
  • Water Quality. Over pumping treated water directly into Pillhill Brook causes pollution to the water course, affecting a wide variety of the community – local residents immediately adjacent to the Mullenspond site, and people, flora and fauna downstream. SW have placed health warning signs at key points along the Brook. We have told SW and the EA we expect over pumping to stop. During over pumping, water testing to EA standards is in place and SW and the EA together review the results each week. TVBC’s environmental Health experts also reviews the test results. APC is working with the EA to understand the testing regime, the results and the implications of SW’s actions for our health and the environment. When the ground water levels have reduced sufficiently, the EA have said that over pumping will not be required and assess that we are close to that point now (21 Apr 21).
  • Highway Repairs. HCC will reinstate the highway and repair or reinstate the street furniture; such work is scheduled for completion ‘in the next two months’. APC will continue to seek a higher priority for these works. In the longer-term, HCC must resolve the highway challenges on Wiremead Lane, where heavier and wider traffic (industrial and farm vehicles mainly) and flooding of the highway causes challenges that can only be resolved by significant work to upgrade the highway. We have also asked HCC’s highways department to consider carefully any further request by SW for a restriction to the highway for SW’s temporary works on Wiremead Lane and asked them to consult with the Parish Council before agreeing to such scope of works.
  • Major Capital Investment. It is clear that over pumping 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 infrastructure solutions, particularly focused on repairs to their infrastructure from Kimpton to East Cholderton and elsewhere locally. We have made it clear to SW that we expect their wastewater infrastructure to be fit for purpose; clearly it is not at the moment!
  • Next Steps. Our ‘expectations’ see SW resolving this issue through:
  • Capital investment for wastewater infrastructure fit for current and evolving future wastewater needs;
  • Assurances regarding the quality of the water in Pillhill Brook and transparency of the water test regime and results that demonstrate this.
  • Compliance with the EA regulatory requirements, through their over pumping operations, during monitoring of water quality, and through their Infiltration Reduction Plan (IRP);
  • A commitment to stop over-pumping and – in extreme circumstances – only to over-pump when necessary to prevent loss of service to their customers or flooding;
  • Careful execution of further work at the East Cholderton site, including a commitment to no light, noise or ground water pollution or smell at or from the site; and
  • Engagement with their customers now and continued engagement and communications with them and with Parish and TVBC representatives through the execution of their future plans.

Our local MP was briefed on 18 April and we asked Kit Malthouse to seek from CEO of SW agreement to these expectations.

At the end of April, we hope to get local Parish Councils together to agree this approach. If these two initiatives are successful, we anticipate inviting a senior executive from SW to meet with local Parishes in May to follow through on discussions that will lead to delivery of our expectations.

To reduce disruption for those immediately adjacent to the site, we have told SW that we expect at the East Cholderton site:

  • Maximum use of mains electricity to power their infrastructure;
  • Light pollution reduction measures (including low level lighting inside the SW site, used only when essential and sufficient for all future circumstances);
  • Noise reduction measures (including consideration of building a small building to house the infrastructure required to operate the site); and
  • Adequate warning of, and regular communications during, such temporary works.

Tim Grimshaw
21 Apr 21

2 Kimpton, Thruxton, Monxton, Abbots Ann, Quarley, Upper Clatford.
3Even the term ‘emergency works’ is a misnomer, since such temporary works in flood and drought have been required for many years.
4The collapse of the White Horse pub wall into the road and repairs required to reinstate it may require careful coordination.
5 The most recent IRP for our area – Fyfield 2018 – is here

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