Local MP Alan Mak has pressured Southern Water to meet new targets set out by the Government to improve water quality and reduce stormwater discharges.
The Havant Constituency MP has been campaigning on the issue alongside senior backbench MP Philip Dunne, who introduced a Private Members Bill on the issue in the House of Commons. Mr Dunne, who is Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, praised Mr Mak for his efforts to get the Government to support the objectives of the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill that aims to reduce the amount of stormwater discharges, including in areas such as Langstone Harbour and Chichester Harbour.
Now a new Storm Overflows Taskforce – made up of Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, Consumer Council for Water, Blueprint for Water and Water UK – has agreed to set a long-term goal to eliminate harmful discharges from storm overflows.
Storm overflows are designed to be used during extreme weather to prevent sewers becoming overloaded with a combination of sewage and rainwater, releasing diluted wastewater rather than letting it back up into people’s homes. However, rising rainfall, leaks in pipes, insufficient rainwater storage capacity and other environmental factors has meant increasing use of these overflows, especially during the winter months.
Following the announcement that a new taskforce is being created, Mr Mak is writing to Southern Water’s Chief Executive asking how they plan to eliminate storm overflows, as well as meet the recommendations that have been made. Mr Mak is meeting Southern Water’s Chief Executive next month as well Environment Minister Rebecca Pow to lobby for further investment into our local infrastructure.
Mr Mak said: “As a strong supporter of the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill’s objectives I am delighted that the Government is taking tough action to eliminate harmful discharges from storm overflows. We have a duty to protect our natural environment, especially areas such as Langstone Harbour and Chichester Harbour, which is why I will be continuing to keep up the pressure on Southern Water to meet the targets set by the Storm Overflows Taskforce.”
Mr Mak has been engaging with Southern Water for several years on the issue, including setting-up and chairing the Hayling Island Environment Forum which brings together local stakeholders, and focuses on tackling the issue specifically in Langstone Harbour and Chichester Harbour. That has already secured several improvements including the upgrading of the Beachbouy electronic notification system to better inform Harbour users of potential pollution events as well as securing additional testing of the bathing waters at Beachlands for the 2021 summer season.
Mr Dunne added: “I know Alan Mak MP has worked on this issue for several years with energy and commitment, and I am delighted he is supporting the objectives of my Bill. Alan is one of several committed colleagues working with me to get key proposals in the Bill adopted by water companies and others to help, over time, improve water quality locally too. There are no quick, easy or cheap solutions but Alan is working hard on this issue with local stakeholders, including through the Hayling Island Environment Forum that he created, and I commend him and all those working together in this Forum for their patience, hard work and long-standing commitment.”