As many areas of the country are faced with the prospect of a drought after months of below average rainfall, Southern Water are planning an ambitious response to the situation. Portsmouth News reports that the Hampshire water company are planning to turn the region’s wastewater into drinking water.
The plans are still at the consultation stage, but if the multi-million pound project was to go ahead, the new high tech water recycling plant would be built next to the existing Budds Farm Wastewater Treatment Works in Havant. The area is already on the brink of a hosepipe ban, after receiving just 65% of average rainfall amounts over the last six months.
Southern Water propose to treat wastewater using microfiltration and reverse osmosis, and it will then pass for further processing at the Otterbourne Water Supply Works. This could allow for over 85 million litres of water to be pumped into the supply network, and reduce the need to abstract water from sensitive river ecosystems.
Sam Underwood, the senior stakeholder manager for the Water For Life infrastructure project, told the publication: ‘What we’re finding in the consultation is that people are recognising the need for water recycling. They may be a bit nervous as we’re talking about waste water and drinking water in the same sentence.”
Sam added: ‘But once we explain the process, the science within the water recycling plant, and the sheer amount of treatment that happens, people recognise that it’s safe, wholesome, resilient form of water for the future.’
‘We really do need to look at more intelligent ways of using water wisely, like water recycling. Treated waste water is currently released 5.7km out to sea from Budds Farm.’
Hampshire has three river valleys, the Itchen, the Test, and the Meon, which provide rare chalk river habitats. The rainwater that feeds them soaks through chalk beds, which means that it is alkaline and enriched with minerals and nutrients in which wildlife can thrive.
This means that the rivers are unusually clear, and are famed throughout the world for the richness and diversity of their flora and fauna.
Kathryn Boler of the Hampshire And Isle of Wight Trust is part of the team assessing Southern Water’s proposal for a Water Recycling Plant.
She commented: ‘With the weather growing warmer due to climate change, we are seeing more erratic rainfall and an uptick in our own water consumption. Balancing the needs of people and wildlife is therefore crucial to keeping our precious chalk streams in good health, and we welcome innovations in achieving this.’
Kathryn added: ‘In Hampshire, we are currently heavily reliant on water drawn from our chalk aquifer. Unfortunately, we share this source with our globally rare chalk streams, which can be negatively impacted when our water demand is high.’
The Environment Agency has imposed strict limits on the amount of water that can be abstracted from these rivers, in order to protect the rare habitats. This makes the need to find alternative water sources in times of drought all the more pressing.
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