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Latest Updates on West Hampshire water

The River Itchen The River Itchen

Moya Grove, CPRE Hampshire water expert reports on the latest situation with West Hampshire water resources. 

Moya attended the meeting held by Southern Water Services (SWS) on 22 January when they presented the solutions planned for water supply in West Hampshire.

Here the new restrictions on taking water from the River Test and the planned sustainability reductions from the Itchen have meant that expensive large scale solutions are needed if they are to meet their legal duty to supply. They can no longer rely on the rivers.

 None of these solutions are yet delivering water and in the short term, if there is a drought and water levels in the river go below the level at which they are not allowed to take any supply, (the so called “hands off level”), SWS will need to start the drought order sequence. Over a period of 3 months, applications will be made to take water from the Test despite its protection in order to get water to our homes. This was all agreed with the Environment Agency at the Public Inquiry in March 2018.

They also agreed a suite of mitigation measures to protect the river from drought conditions. Substantial sums of money have gone from SWS to the EA and the HIWWT to research and implement these.

CPRE Hampshire is very worried about the impact of this on the Test as are all the conservation groups and the fisheries people. The large scale solutions have been planned for some time but have still not been implemented. We have had a dry winter.

There are varying options depending on the effectiveness and timing of the different solutions. They include:

  • Target 100 – this means reducing everyone’s water use to 100 litres per person per day (lpppd) by 2040. At the moment the average use is 140lpppd. This will include a programme to get people to value and conserve water. This is the “let’s Talk Water” strategy.
  •  Continuing leakage reduction and metering programmes.
  •  A desalination plant producing 100mega litres a day from 2027. This will be at Fawley and is still in the discussion stages.
  •  The import of water from Portsmouth Water of up to 30 mega lpd possibly by 2023.
  •  The import of supplies from South West Water at Bournemouth may be needed by 2027 depending on the success of other solutions. possibly also from Wessex water.
  •  Pursuing a Hampshire water grid of pipelines to take water to where it is needed.
  •  Investigating and implement if possible, restoration measures on the Test which could increase resilience to drought
  •  Supporting the Havant Thicket reservoir proposal (Portsmouth Water)
  •  Investigation of a water reuse scheme at Sandown
  •  Some sources have had to be closed because of nitrate pollution. They will investigate cleaning and using these.
  •  Catchment based solutions. This means encouraging people using the land in the river catchment to make space for water leading to attenuation of flows in heavy rain. This means water passes down the river system slowly – not all in one go. A very long term solution but one which is supported by CPRE as catchment approaches benefit the rivers most.

We are now seeing the start of the pressures which will come in the south with climate change. Not enough water. Higher temperatures, increased severity of rainfall and reduced rainfall totals combined with the full tilt development of housing throughout the south will make this worse in the future. Solutions have to be found. Soon.

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