Rainwater and Safe Water for Swimming

The Salisbury Journal reports: Wessex Water is investing £3 million a month to tackle storm overflows and reduce discharges of untreated sewage in Wiltshire.

The company’s Storm Overflows Improvement Plan will see every overflow in the region monitored by 2023, while the number of hours storm overflows discharge will be reduced by 25%.

Work will be carried out to separate rainwater from the sewer system.

There will also be continuing investment in artificial intelligence monitoring at wild swimming sites to provide near real time information.

Matt Wheeldon, director of asset strategy and compliance for Wessex Water, said: “We understand the concerns about storm overflows and agree they should have no place in a 21st century sewerage system.

“This major investment is the start of decisive action to tackle storm overflows, and our longer-term improvement plan sets out the further progress we will make over the coming years.”

The Rivers Trust is a conservation charity who work towards having wild, healthy, natural rivers.

Christine Colvin, director for communications and partnerships at The Rivers Trust, said: “This initial investment by Wessex Water is encouraging.

“It’s going to be really important for Wessex Water to scale up their infrastructure spend to deal with remaining pollution problems, and to work upstream of their sewers with local authorities and developers to keep storm water out of sewers and prevent them overspilling.”

There are 1,300 across the region so it’ll take “time and significant resources to eliminate them”, but Matt says the £3 million monthly investment will help “make a good start”.

Dave Rumble at Wessex Rivers Trust says tackling pollution will require both short and long-term solutions. He added: “In the long-term there is no substitute for investment in both tried and tested and innovative solutions, ideally working with nature, which we know that the company is planning.

“Whatever is done needs to be effective and adaptive and we watch with interest.”

Wessex Water’s Storm Overflows Improvement Plan has been shared with water industry regulator Ofwat and regional environmental groups.