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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:

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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