Wessex Rivers Trust has been made aware of imminent plans by Southern Water to over-pump
screened and diluted but untreated wastewater from its sewage network directly into the River Test at Chilbolton and Longparish. This is unacceptable, and sadly indicative of historic failings and mismanagement of sewerage infrastructure.
The Trust has been in dialogue with Southern Water, the Environment Agency, and stakeholders,
including landowners and river keepers, and has highlighted the potential for significant environmental harm should the company proceed with over-pumping into the River Test, a globally significant chalk stream. We appreciate that extremely high groundwater levels are contributing to
the infiltration of the sewer network in and around these locations, but also consider the network to
be excessively vulnerable to such infiltration.
We echo the concerns expressed by the riparian community that they have not been consulted during
the implementation of preparations for over-pumping. We do recognise the risks to homes and property of flooding through the network, and the considerable challenges of alternative options.
However, the Trust believes that the only acceptable short-term option is to scale-up the removal of
wastewater by tankers, to facilities with both equipment capacity and to fully treat it before returning it to the environment. As a sustainable solution, we urge for greater and more urgent investment in
sealing and/or upgrading of the sewage network where groundwater is a high risk.
The Trust is aware that the option for over-pumping is included in Infiltration Reduction Plans but urge that every effort is made to ensure it is only used as a very last resort. We understand that Southern Water will be working with the Environment Agency, the regulator, to evaluate impacts and risks. We
will be actively monitoring the situation over the coming days.