Southern Water owned offshore in the tax haven of Jersey, discharged untreated diluted sewage into the sea of the Folkestone & Hythe District coastline for two thousand three hundred and thirty eight (2,388) hours in 2020. This is equivalent of untreated diluted sewage being poured into the sea of our coastline, once every four days. These discharges stemmed from 235 incidents at ten Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) or pumping stations dotted around the district.
New Romney WWTW
Queens Rd New Romney Water Pumping Station (WPS)
Lydd Rd Camber WPS
Alexander Rd Hythe Combined Sewer Overflow
Range Rd Hythe WPS
Tates Copse Hythe WPS
West Hythe WWTW
Southern Way Folkestone WPS
The Southern Way, Folkestone Junction Water Pumping Station delivers approximately 45 -50 million litres of wastewater every day from the surrounding catchment area. In 2020 it had eighteen discharges lasting 108 hours. this means approx 200,625,000 litres of untreated diluted sewage flowed into the sea over 108 hours.
Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and storm overflows (SOs) are designed to discharge untreated, diluted sewage directly into rivers and watercourses in event of extreme rainfall to prevent the flooding of homes and businesses.
Any overflow which spills more than 60 times per year should be investigated by the Environment Agency, or 40 times if monitoring has been in place for several years. In our district only the West Hythe WWTW spilt more than 60 hours. It spilt for 1,614 hours, but it appears it has not been investigated by the Environment Agency.
CSOs and SOs are the canary in the mine for waste water management, and it is clear from these figures, for our district, the sewage network is not fit for purpose.
On June 16th 2021, flash floods in Hythe caused flooding for businesses and households on Hythe High Street. With increasingly volatile weather patterns due to climate change becoming the norm, this is affecting the towns and villages in our district on a more frequent basis. This problem will only get worse and our current infrastructure is not be able to cope with demand. Yet for some inexplicable reason Southern Water fails to object to planning applications even though they are aware the waste water sewer infrastructure in the district is not fit for purpose.
Increased investment by Southern Water in waste water management is absolutely imperative. They need to urgently explore and in invest in upstream nature-based solutions to fix our broken system. Alongside that, every resident of the district can contribute to the solution by only flushing pee, poo and paper – not putting wet wipes and other materials down the loo or pouring oil down the kitchen drain.
As announced just yesterday, Southern Water announced the Australian investment bank Macquarie had bought a majority stake in Southern Water for more than £1bn. However, we should welcome this news cautiously as Macquaire in their last foray into the water industry in the UK left Thames Water with an extra £2bn debt burden.
The International Panel on Climate Change made it clear in their report released on Monday that the temperature in the UK had risen by 0.95 degrees, which has led to a 6% increase in annual rainfall, meaning extreme rainfall events will only increase. This will lead to more CSOs and SO discharging untreated, diluted sewage directly into the sea of our coastline and elsewhere.
Even with Macquaire’s promised investment into the sewage infrastructure it is too little to prevent further untreated diluted sewage into the sea along our coastline as Climate Change accelerates.
Building more homes across our beautiful district with infrastructure already unable to cope means these types of spillages are set to get worse, before they get better.
The Shepway Vox Team
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