William Eichler 02 August 2019

Havant BC calls for better water quality testing

Havant Borough Council is proposing to form a partnership with other local authorities to lobby for further water quality testing and monitoring.

Council leader Michael Wilson has met with a representative from Southern Water to discuss the effects of untreated stormwater releases into the sea following heavy rainfall.

He said he was ‘increasingly concerned and frustrated’ by releases and what he characterised as the lack of investment the water company is making in its infrastructure.

Cllr Wilson said that he demanded more action from Southern Water to ensure that the seawater is safer during a recent meeting.

‘I was told at this meeting that there have been 146 releases so far this year which is more than 20 a month. Whilst I understand the need to prevent flooding, I am surprised at the number of releases in that time period,’ he said.

'Water quality is not currently monitored in Langstone Harbour and I would like to see our residents provided with accurate and timely information so that they may make informed decisions regarding bathing and watersports activities.’

Samuel Underwood, Southern Water’s stakeholder manager for Hampshire, said that he was grateful that Cllr Wilson had met with him to discuss ‘this emotive and complex issue’.

He said that while the water at Langstone Harbour was not monitored by the Environment Agency, the modelling Southern Water had carried out suggested it is at the bathing water ‘excellent’ standard 95% of the time.

‘All local bathing waters are deemed to have “excellent” bathing water quality by the Environment Agency, some for as many as 29 years,’ he added.

Mr Underwood stressed that the water company’s policies on stormwater releases were in line with Environment Agency recommendations.

‘Our stormwater releases protect homes, businesses and streets from flooding and are permitted by the Environment Agency,’ he said.

‘Over recent years, we have spent many millions of pounds reducing the impact of these releases into the harbour. Including the £20m surface water separation scheme in Portsmouth and £14m of improvements at our Fort Cumberland site, but there will always be a need for such releases.’

He added that Southern Water was piloting voluntary stormwater release notifications into the harbour which will be automated in the future.

In his statement, Cllr Wilson said: ‘I will arrange a meeting as soon as I can with Portsmouth City Council, the Environment Agency and Southern Water to outline how we can step up robust water quality testing and monitoring.

‘I have told Southern Water that Havant Borough Council is prepared to take samples and I want us to work together to ensure the samples are tested and analysed to provide detailed information about the quality of the water on our beaches and harbours.’

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