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Southern Water updates developing plans for new sustainable water resources

September 29, 2021

Southern Water updates developing plans for new sustainable water resources


Southern Water has unveiled the latest developments in its plans to help keep Hampshire's rivers and taps flowing - especially in a drought. 

The plans are detailed in the company's Water for Life - Hampshire programme. This industry-leading programme is part of Southern Water's commitment to deliver two vital aims associated with delivering a resilient water future for Hampshire.

Firstly to protect the Rivers Test and Itchen, two of the world's finest chalk streams by substantially reducing the amount of water taken from them. Secondly to safeguard vital public water supplies now and in future by making up the shortfall via alternative, sustainable sources.

The company has been developing a series of potential options to achieve these vital twin aims,alongside investment to reduce leakage and improve water efficiency. 

A wide-ranging and collaborative assessment of these options with regulators and other statutory consultees, stakeholders and customers has been completed including a detailed options appraisal process to consider their likely viability and potential impacts.

Options assessed included a desalination plant, several different configurations of water recycling, using advanced treatment techniques to turn what was previously regarded as wastewater into drinking water. The company is also exploring building a new pipeline to transport more water from the Havant Thicket Reservoir to Southern Water's Otterbourne Water Supply Works in consultation with Portsmouth Water.

From the options appraisal process, water recycling and water transfers were assessed as preferable, particularly when impacts on the environment were considered. Desalination, ranked lower than these options.

Consequently, Southern Water has written to its regulators informing them that it is continuing to explore its proposals for water recycling and water transfer solutions and not intending to further develop plans for desalination.

Mark Wintringham, Head of Delivery for Water for Life - Hampshire, said: "The need for new resources is driven by reductions in the amount of water we can take from Hampshire's rivers during a drought and accelerated by climate change and a growing population.

"As a result, we are developing a holistic approach to the water resources challenge in Hampshire that will put the county at the vanguard of sustainable water resources solutions.

"Our proposals, which include investing to reduce leakage and improve water efficiency, will help keep Hampshire's rivers and taps flowing for us and future generations and pave the way for similar approaches for the rest of the region and indeed the country."

Southern Water is now progressing further investigations and development of the remaining options ahead of its next submission to regulators in December, 2021, where it will select its preferred solution, before carrying out further engagement and consultation, and starting the planning process.

Submission documents will be shared on Southern Water's website in the next two weeks.

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Notes to Editors

  • The twin pressures of more extreme weather events and a growing population are stretching our planet's finite natural resources, including water.

  • In Hampshire, reductions in the amount of water Southern Water can take from the Test and Itchen rivers leave the company with a significant shortfall of water in a drought.

  • These chalk streams support a wide variety of species and deserve protection, but they also supply water to more than 700,000 people.

  • Southern Water is improving the way it abstracts, treats and supplies water across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and exploring new sources of supply.

  • Southern Water is also reducing leakage and supporting and incentivising people to reduce their water use to 100 litres a day.

  • Water recycling speeds up the natural process of water treatment. Advanced treatment techniques, including ultra-filtration, turn what was previously regarded as wastewater into drinking water. Instead of returning treated water to the environment, it can be kept in the supply network, reducing the amount taken from the environment. Southern Water is running a pilot at its Peel Common Wastewater Treatment Works in Gosport as part of its investigations into the water recycling process.

  • Southern Water isworking in collaboration with Portsmouth Water to develop and fund Havant Thicket Reservoir, which is a new strategic water resource for the South East. The 8.7 billion litre reservoir will be the first new reservoir in the South East since the 1970s.