Southern Water’s Operations in Amport Pt.4

(last updated 13 September 2021)

Introduction

This fourth update describes plans, progress and issues since 10 June when the last brief was posted.

We held the second Pan Parish Forum (PPF) with Southern Water (SW) on 9 September. It was important that the forum remains positively engaged and there was plenty of energy from all sides. The EA’s presence strengthened the potential of the forum.

SW reiterated their focus on meeting the six commitments agreed in June. They accept that traditional approaches to tackling inundation have helped but not resolved long-standing groundwater and surface water issues, as weather extremes become more common. Their intention is to tackle the challenges in our area under a strengthened management team as a ‘pathfinder project’.

The wider context of the meeting was that SW had been fined for ‘deliberately dumping billions of litres of raw sewage into the sea between 2010 and 2015’[1] and Macquarrie investment had acquired a stake in SW and provided a substantial injection of funds[2].

Progress

  • SW have surveyed 9.1 of 9.6km of public sewers, sealed 1.9kms of pipe and 18 manholes in Fyfield and undertaken a pilot of private lateral surveys. Lifting of over 50 manholes identified that some 60% of the private sector laterals need attention; SW will develop plans to use new technology to seal them (tubogel) if the trial is successful. They have started the second wave of surveys, to identify by 22 October damage to their wastewater system, ensuring that they can focus on necessary repairs.
  • Following trials, testing and sampling during the 2021 groundwater season, SW were able to prove the effectiveness of UV disinfection as a means of mitigating risk to property and the environment. Environmental monitoring was undertaken by SW and the results were shared with the EA, TVBC and with APC.
  • The generic and first draft Fyfield IRPs were circulated to the PPF lead and our comments were taken on board by SW.
  • SW has issued a Communications Plan, which when implemented, could significantly improve engagement with the authorities, communities, businesses and customers they support.
  • Hampshire County Council completed repairs on Wiremead Lane to damage caused by SW during the last groundwater season.

Plans

  • SW’s temporary works planning seeks to reduce disruption at sites where they must tanker wastewater away to prevent flooding of roads and residences. Plans for Wiremead Lane are mature and could be completed by end-December. At Kimpton and Abbotts Ann, works are not yet fully planned. In short, we expect these works when completed this season will significantly reduce disruption to the lives of those in the vicinity of their works.
  • Plans are being developed to use UV systems for over pumping to prevent flooding in the next groundwater season (potentially from as early as end-November, more likely in late-January 2022) at Mullen’s Pond Water Pumping Station (WPS) in East Cholderton, Stanbury Road WPS in Fyfield and perhaps at Kimpton Village Green and Little Ann Bridge.
  • Earlier surveys identified the need to line 350m of defective sewers which will be completed by end-October, and to repair 1.5km of sewer which will be complete by end-December. SW will survey another 7.5 km of sewer and complete CCTV surveys of a short section of private laterals by 22 October. The scope and timing of other rehabilitation work will be determined by the surveys and we must remain engaged with SW through the next quarter to ensure they expedite these repairs quickly.
  • Pre-season work (e.g. groundwater site and catchment inspections, jetting to clear pipes, WPS equipment maintenance) ensures SW’s network is in the optimum condition to deal with inundation. Prediction of the possible need for tankering and over-pumping is key. Groundwater reports are being produced by SW now; these generate a weekly view of borehole levels tracking against previous years, allowing them to predict when intervention may be necessary and give an indication of the potential severity of the season. We will work with SW and the EA to monitor these reports and their predictions for intervention.
  • Their longer-term capital works plans are ambitious. They propose a comprehensive approach: sustainable drainage systems; infiltration reduction of their wastewater system; separation or removal of surface water through filter beds and soakaways; smart technology to optimise the capacity of their system; and increasing network capacity. We expect them to consult as they develop their plans, engage with the authorities and communities they will be working in and communicate their plans, progress and issues. The bottom line: capital works are required to prevent future tankering and over-pumping operations; it is realistic to see tangible results from network improvements by next season.

Issues

  • SW is clear that the parishes expect their rehabilitation of the system to stop the need for tankering and over pumping.
  • It is important that the scope of temporary works at Abbots Ann is agreed and potential planning issues resolved; TVBC and AAPC are engaged.
  • The IRP development is critical to establish the regulatory framework for SW’s operations. We want the revised IRP approved by end-October and expect it to show a realistic plan for the reduction of infiltration (at present the IRP is much stronger on dealing with the effects of inundation) and it must be a simpler, stand-alone document.
  • To be fully effective as ‘100 year’ inundation events increase, our plans need a wider approach (tackling private sector laterals, highways surface flooding), perhaps by expanding the composition and scope of the PPF agenda.
  • SW has critical assets in Fyfield; we will reach out to their PC to see if they wish to engage in the Forum.

Summary

Plans are developing; PCs will measure SW’s progress by their actions. The next quarter (October-December 2021) is crucial to the delivery of the first stage of their ‘pathfinder project’, enabling SW to reduce disruption to our lives, avoid polluting the watercourse and demonstrate to a broader audience the scope, timescale and costs of a simple case study in the storm overflows scope. The seven most affected parishes will work with SW ensure these improvements are made.


[1] Link: Southern Water fine.

[2] Link: Macquarie acquire stake in SW.

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