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Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment

Find more information about the process of creating our Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan (DWMP) for Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels.

background

1. Overview for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment

Our DWMP sets out our priorities for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment.

  • Reducing the number of spills from the 66 storm overflows which together currently spill around 1,200 times per annum.
  • Separating or attenuating excess rainwater in the sewer networks to reduce the risks of flooding and frequency of storm overflow discharges, especially in Bexhill, Hastings, Newhaven and Hailsham.
  • Investigating the potential impact of wastewater discharges on Good Ecological Status in designated habitats at Cuckmere, Pevensey and Hastings.
  • Developing a nutrient budget by investigating the sources impacting designated habitat sites at Cuckmere and the Pevensey Levels.
  • Planning for potential significant development at Bexhill-on-Sea.
  • Addressing saline intrusion and tide locking as part of the Blue Heart Project and Pevensey Bay to Eastbourne Coastal Management Scheme.
  • Improving the resilience of our networks and treatment works to prevent pollution incidents, particularly in Bexhill, Eastbourne and Hailsham.
  • Reducing the risk of sewer blockages by increasing sewer jetting and targeting customer campaigns to reduce the amount of FOG (fats, oils and grease) and non-flushables in the sewer network around Eastbourne, St.Leonards (Warrior Square) and Castle Hill, Hastings.
  • Reducing the risk to groundwater by reducing leakage from our sewers in the Westham area of Eastbourne.

All the stages we followed in developing the DWMP for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment are set out in the subsections below.

Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels

Across Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels, we have:

18

Sewerage catchments

2,798

Kilometres of sewers

18

Wastewater Treatment Works

204

Wastewater Pumping Stations

18%

The percentage of region that is connected to a mains

97%

The percentage of homes connected to a mains sewer

94%

The percentage of businesses connected to a mains sewer

Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels

Across Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels, we have:

18

Sewerage catchments

2,798

Kilometres of sewers

18

Wastewater Treatment Works

204

Wastewater Pumping Stations

18%

The percentage of region that is connected to a mains

97%

The percentage of homes connected to a mains sewer

94%

The percentage of businesses connected to a mains sewer

3. Working with others

We've worked with a wide range of organisations with responsibilities for drainage, flooding and protection of the environment while developing our DWMP. The organisations we worked with in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment include:

  • East Sussex County Council
  • Water Management Alliance (Pevensey & Cuckmere)
  • Hastings District Council
  • Rother District Council
  • Wealden District Council
  • The Environment Agency
  • Natural England
  • The Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment Partnership and member organisations including:
    • The Sussex Wildlife Trust
    • The South East Wildlife Trust
    • The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
    • The Forestry Commission
    • The Country Landowners Association
  • South East Water

Working together to co-create the DWMP is important. Our drainage and wastewater systems are often interconnected with the systems managed and operated by others and affect the natural environments within the catchment.

A wide range of issues and concerns have been raised and discussed throughout the development of the DWMP for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels.

  • Significant growth is expected the Hailsham area, with about 5,000 homes planned over the next 15 years. Flooding is already an issue so a longer term drainage plan and locations for SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems) are needed.
  • Although the Eastbourne sewer network has capacity, around 94% of the flow is from roof and road runoff. Flooding is also an issue so sustainable land drainage is urgently needed in the catchment. East Sussex County Council has a report on the strategic location of SuDS relating to the Pevensey Levels.
  • There are significant lengths of combined sewers across the river basin and these need investigating to understand the potential for separation.
  • The sewers overlying the Eastbourne Source Protection Zone (SPZ) potentially need relining to protect groundwater supplies.
  • Pollution, nutrients and the storming impacts from storm overflows are likely to be adversely impacting the Pevensey Levels Habitat, the SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and bathing and shellfish waters.
  • High river levels affect the outfalls at Eastbourne and there is seawater infiltration into the underground treatment works affecting the separation of solids, hinders biological activity and affects the pumping station.
  • The potential impact of coastal erosion and disruption to services at Eastbourne means a ‘change’ strategy should be considered.

We're progressing these issues through the development of the DWMP as set out in our investment needs for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels. Furthermore, we commit to working with others to co-develop and co-deliver schemes that meet multi-organisational objectives and which benefit the environment, our customers and communities.

We developed and ran a series of activities between 2020 and 2022 as we prepared our DWMP for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels. You can see the dates and purpose of the webinars, workshops, meetings on individual wastewater systems and interim consultation in the table below.

 

Date

 

Regional webinar /

River Basin Workshop / system meeting

Purpose

25 Aug 20

 

Regional Webinar

What is a DWMP? Background and purpose

03 Sep 20

 

Regional Webinar

 

02 Sep 20

 

Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels

Discuss the Risk Based Catchment Screening and Planning Objectives

16 Dec 20

Regional Webinar

 

Disseminate the BRAVA results for the National Planning Objectives

07 Jan 21

Regional Webinar

 

 

Jan – Mar 21

Meetings with West Sussex County Council, NE and EA

 

Develop the BRAVA methodologies for NN, GES, Surface Water, Groundwater & Bathing and Shellfish Waters.

23 Mar 21

 

Regional Webinar

Disseminate the BRAVA results for the additional Planning Objectives included in our DWMP

31 Mar 21

 

Regional Webinar

 

13 May 21

Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels

To explore the risks and potential investment options

Aug – Oct 21

41 wastewater catchment meetings covering 61 systems

To agree generic investment options

24 Aug 21

 

Eastbourne

To discuss an appropriate investment strategy for each wastewater system, identify the options to manage and reduce the risks.

08 Sep 21

 

 

Hailsham North and Hailsham South

 

28 Sep 21

 

Ford

 

04 Oct 21

 

 

Bexhill and Hastings

 

 

Sep – Oct 21

Interim consultation

To gain feedback on the SEA Scoping Report, the DWMP Processes and engagement and the emerging plans for each RBC

01 Dec 21

 

Regional Webinar

Water industry funding

06 Dec 21

 

Regional Webinar

 

20 Jan 22

Regional Webinar

EA partnership funding

31 Mar 22

Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels

To discuss and agree in principle the Investment needs

 

The regionally-based webinars presented and discussed issues and information relevant across the whole of our operating region. The presentations we discussed at the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels workshops are listed below.

Workshop 1

Held in September 2020, participants discussed the findings of the risk based catchment screening and proposed additional planning objectives for the DWMP. Workshop slides.

Workshop 2

Held in May 2021, participants:

  1. discussed the results from the BRAVA risk assessments and the proposed investment strategy for the wastewater catchments within the river basin
  2. identified the generic options that should be explored to address the identified risks, and
  3. discussed which wastewater catchments to progress through the Options Development and Appraisal stage of the DWMP. Workshop slides.

Workshop 3

Held in March 2022, we reviewed and discussed the draft investment programme for the River Basin Catchment. This included the types of investment, priorities and timing for investment needs and the wider opportunities arising from the proposed investment in terms of partnership projects and catchment wide solutions providing multiple benefits. Workshop slides.

You can view the findings from our interim consultation.

4. Risk based catchment screening for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment

Risk based catchment screening (RBCS) is a process that uses existing, readily available data. This is used to identify where there's a current and/or potential risk or vulnerability in the sewer catchment to future changes, such as new residential development or changes in climate.

This enables effort to be focused on these catchments during the development of the DWMP, in order to understand these risks in more detail and why they're likely to occur.

The RBCS involves the assessment of each sewer catchment against 17 indicators set out in guidance published by Water UK. Water companies can add additional indicators to ensure that other important issues are highlighted at this early stage in the development of the DWMPs. We've included an additional metric on customer complaints as this provides a flag for catchments with ongoing or outstanding concerns.

Find out more about the risk based catchment screening process.

You can download the RBCS results for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment below.

Download the RBCS for Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels

5. BRAVA for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment

The Baseline Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (BRAVA) is an important step in the development of our DWMP. It helps us understand current system performance and future vulnerabilities. This means that we can identify the investment needed to manage and reduce the risks to band 0 (no significant level of risk).

A BRAVA assessment has been completed for each of the wastewater systems in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment that were flagged during the risk based catchment screening (RBCS). A risk assessment is completed for all 14 planning objectives.

The output of the BRAVA shows:

  • the current risks and issues in each wastewater system within the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels catchment. This provides a baseline from which we can assess the future risks in 2030, 2035, 2045 and 2050 (where the methodology currently allows us to assess the future risks) so we can understand how the current risks may change without additional investment
  • the key issues behind the future changes in risk, including:
    • a deterioration in the condition of our wastewater systems
    • climate change – including the increasing frequency and severity of droughts and storms
    • growth and urban creep
    • a combination of any or all of these that are relevant in the catchment being assessed.

Use the link below to view the results of the BRAVA for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment.

Download the BRAVA Summary for Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels

Notes

  1. In the BRAVA results table, “not flagged” means no risks were identified in the initial RBCS using the nationally set criteria. Wastewater systems not flagged were screened out and did not progress to the BRAVA stage. “Not applicable” means the planning objective was not relevant within the wastewater system. For example, where a system has no storm overflows, this will be marked as “Not applicable”.
  2. Please check the DWMP glossary for any unexplained acronyms.

6. Problem Characterisation

The Problem Characterisation stage of the DWMP uses the results from the Baseline Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (BRAVA) to explore the causes of risks and the primary drivers. A technical summary provides information on our approach to the Problem Characterisation stage.

Current risks in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment

The graph below illustrates the combined results of the 2020 BRAVA assessment for all 18 wastewater systems in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment. It shows how many wastewater systems have a risk under each of the 14 planning objectives. For example, for the risk of internal flooding, 12 wastewater systems are in band 0 (not significant), for are in band 1 (moderately significant), there are no systems in band 2 (very significant) and two were ‘not flagged’ for inclusion (i.e. screened out at the risk based catchment screening stage of the DWMP).

This graph illustrates that storm overflows are the main concern in this river basin based on the BRAVA results for 2020. This is illustrated by the brown bars being the highest for planning objective 6. Pollution, sewer collapse and annualised flood risk were the next most significant concerns.

The wastewater systems with the highest number of planning objectives in band 2 (very significant) are Eastbourne and Hailsham North with five objectives in band 2. Bexhill and Hastings has four band 2 risks, and Hailsham South and Vines Cross both have three planning objectives in band 2. All other catchments have fewer risks.

The specific risks and the causes of risk for each of the wastewater systems are explained in the summary of the problem characterisation for each system. These are available to download from the link next to the name of each system in the table below.

Future risks in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment

The 2050 BRAVA results help us to identify the future challenges for drainage and wastewater management in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment. These are:

(a) Growth

There are several wastewater catchments where new homes, businesses, roads and other infrastructure are planned. The main areas identified for potential new development in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment are:

  • Eastbourne
  • Bexhill and Hastings
  • Hailsham North
  • Hailsham South

The BRAVA results show that the additional homes and businesses will increase the risks of non-compliance with our Dry Weather Flow (DWF) permits from the Environment Agency in six of the 18 wastewater systems. This includes Bexhill and Hastings, Eastbourne, Hailsham South, Hailsham North, Windmill Hill Herstmonceux and Alfriston. This means further investment will be needed in the future to increase the capacity of our treatment works to accommodate the new homes and businesses.

The additional development may mean that our current permits for wastewater treatment quality might be exceeded by 2050 without further investment in three wastewater systems, Windmill Hill Herstmonceux, Hooe and Catsfield.

New development in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment might put additional pressure on internationally designated habitat sites such as Pevensey Levels and Hastings Cliffs, so solutions will need to be found to ensure that development is nutrient neutral.

A map of the catchment showing the estimated future growth in each wastewater system is shown below. The technical summary explains how we have considered population growth and urban creep in our DWMP.

(b) Climate change

Climate change will bring greater variability of our weather with warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers. This could result in more intense summer storms that exceed the capacity of the drainage and wastewater networks and cause localised flooding. Hence, the risk of flooding from sewer systems is increasing due to climate change. The technical summary explains how we have considered climate change in our DWMP.

We'll work with partner organisations, such as East Sussex County Council and the Environment Agency, who have responsibility for flooding and drainage to consider options and develop opportunities to find solutions that reduce the risks from flooding.

We'll need to adapt our wastewater systems to operate in future climates. There will be an increasing need to slow the flow entering our sewer networks so the systems can carry the water without flooding homes and businesses and/or without causing discharges from storm overflows. Preventing additional rainfall from entering foul sewer networks, including combined sewer networks where possible, could delay the need to upgrade and enlarge the vast underground network of sewers.

Climate change is expected to have an impact on the risk of flooding in several wastewater systems, especially Eastbourne, Hailsham South, Hailsham North and Windmill Hill Herstmonceux where there is already a very significant risk from rainfall-related flooding. The flooding risk will increase by 2050 unless measures are taken to manage and reduce these risks. The BRAVA results indicate that the risk of storm overflow discharges for five wastewater systems in this river basin catchment is likely to increase to very significant by 2050.

The map below shows the potential impact of climate change, urban creep and growth on the risk of flooding in a 1-in-20-year storm for the wastewater systems. We followed Water UK’s capacity assessment framework to apply a 20% uplift to rainfall forecasts to assess the potential increases in flood volumes shown on the map. Urban creep was estimated using the approach developed by the UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) report on Urban Creep in sewerage systems (2010).

The map highlights that we'll need to adapt to climate change. Adaptation will mean considering long-term sustainable options, such as reducing the volume of rainwater entering the sewer network. This approach may provide the capacity within the wastewater system to allow for future growth, therefore reducing both the need for significant increases in the capacity of the existing wastewater systems and reducing discharges from storm overflows.

Investment planning for each wastewater system

We used the BRAVA results and our understanding of the causes of risks and drivers to propose an investment strategy for each of the wastewater systems. Find out more information on how we determined the investment strategies. These strategies help us to target the wastewater systems that need further investment to reduce the potential risks to customers and the environment. We've produced a table that lists the proposed investment strategy for each catchment.

We used a risk-based approach to identify the wastewater systems that we need to progress in this first round of DWMPs. For these systems, we will develop an investment plan. Our technical summary sets out how we selected the systems to take forward.

The table below lists the wastewater systems in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment that we’re progressing further during this first round of the DWMPs into the investment planning stage. We've included a catchment map and an explanation of the causes of risks for these systems (see links in the table below).

The maps and causes of risks for the remaining wastewater systems in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels will be published when available.

System Ref

Wastewater system

Wastewater system map

Information on causes of risks

EALP

Eastbourne

Eastbourne Map

Eastbourne Causes of Risks

HABX

Bexhill and Hastings

Bexhill and Hastings Map

Bexhill and Hastings Causes of Risks

HAIN

Hailsham North

Hailsham North Map

Hailsham North Causes of Risks

HAIS

Hailsham South

Hailsham South Map

Hailsham South Causes of Risks

VINE

Vines Cross

Vines Cross Map

Vines Cross Causes of Risks

 

7. Options Development and Appraisal

Our approach to Options Development and Appraisal (ODA) is explained in a technical summary.

We commenced the ODA process at the river basin catchment (RBC) scale (level 2 planning). This enabled us to look across all the wastewater systems in the river basin and consider generic options that could work at the catchment scale, as well as those specific to a wastewater system.

The generic options are grouped into those that help tackle the risks 'at source’, those that help to improve the wastewater system, ‘the pathway’, and those that protect or mitigate the impacts on the receiving waterbodies, ‘the receptors’. This process helped to identify the types of options that could be used individually or in combination with other options.

We held meetings with partner organisations to build upon the list of generic options relevant to each wastewater system. As a group, we identified and proposed ‘unconstrained’ options to tackle the drivers and causes of risks identified during the Problem Characterisation stage. We then progressed these unconstrained options through the Options Development and Appraisal stage.

The options appraisal involved evaluating each of the options in two stages. Firstly, to screen out unviable options to leave a set of ‘constrained’ options. Then, a second stage to reduce the list further to leave only potentially ‘feasible’ options (see the Options Development and Appraisal technical summary for full details of this process). The process for evaluating the benefits and how we've taken the environment into account is set out in our Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Scoping Report and the SEA Progress Report.

Only feasible options with positive benefits proceeded to the costing stage and this resulted in the selection of the preferred options and confirmed whether each was ‘least cost’ or provided ‘best value’.

The feasible options column in the table below shows how we applied the process within each wastewater system. Beginning with the generic options through the appraisal stages, the table shows the point at which some options were rejected and why. If an option wasn't rejected, it was costed and became either the final best value or the least cost preferred option (see ODA technical summary for details of this process).

Our final preferred options are set out in the Investment Needs tables for each wastewater system. The accompanying maps show the location of the proposed options within the wastewater system.

Please check the DWMP glossary for any unexplained acronyms.

The options and investment needs are not committed funding but an identification of the needs for funding. We'll include these options in our future business plans as part of the Ofwat periodic review of water company funding to secure the investment needed to implement these options.

System ref.

Wastewater system

Generic options screening

Feasible options

Investment needs

Investment needs map

HABX

Bexhill and Hastings

Options Screening

Feasible options screening

Investment needs

Map

EALP

Eastbourne

Options Screening

Feasible options screening

Investment needs

Map

HAIN

Hailsham North

Options Screening

Feasible options screening

Investment needs

Map

HAIS

Hailsham South

Options Screening

Feasible options screening

Investment needs

Map

VINE

Vines Cross

Options Screening

Postponed

Postponed

Postponed

 

Please note: The areas highlighted for customer education in the investment needs maps are indicative areas of likely focus, as they were derived from historical incident data.

8. Programme Appraisal

The Programme Appraisal stage of the DWMP follows the Options Development and Appraisal (ODA) process. The ODA process identified the preferred options for investment in our wastewater systems to reduce the current risks as well as the risks up to 2050.

The Programme Appraisal brings the investment needs for each wastewater system together into an investment needs programme for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment. We look across the river basin catchment to review the investments needed, the timing of these needs and how they combine to reduce the risks to our customers and the environment.

We also look at the wider risk reduction that each option provides across all the planning objectives. Some actions, like separating rainwater from wastewater sewers, could reduce risks under several planning objectives such as storm overflows, external flooding, bathing water quality, shellfish water quality and good ecological status. The details of the method for prioritisation can be found in our Technical Summary on Programme Appraisal.

The investment needs in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment include:

  • reducing the number of spills from the 66 storm overflows which together currently spill around 1,200 times per annum
  • separating or attenuating excess rainwater in the sewer networks to reduce the risks of flooding and frequency of storm overflow discharges, especially in Bexhill, Hastings, Newhaven and Hailsham
  • investigating the potential impact of wastewater discharges on Good Ecological Status in designated habitats at Cuckmere, Pevensey and Hastings
  • developing a nutrient budget by investigating the sources impacting designated habitat sites at Cuckmere and the Pevensey Levels
  • planning for potential significant development at Bexhill-on-Sea
  • addressing saline intrusion and tide locking as part of the Blue Heart Project and Pevensey Bay to Eastbourne Coastal Management Scheme
  • improving the resilience of our networks and treatment works to prevent pollution incidents, particularly in Bexhill, Eastbourne and Hailsham
  • reducing the risk of sewer blockages by increasing sewer jetting and targeting customer campaigns to reduce the amount of FOG (fats, oils and grease) and non-flushables in the sewer network around Eastbourne, St. Leonards (Warrior Square) and Castle Hill, Hastings
  • reducing the risk to groundwater by reducing leakage from our sewers in the Westham area of Eastbourne.

Investment needs for the catchment

We progressed four wastewater systems through the ODA stage in the first cycle of the DWMP. These four wastewater systems serve a population of around 300,000 which is approximately 93% of customers in this river basin catchment.

We extrapolated the investment needs for these four systems to the other 14 systems in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels river basin catchment. This provides an estimate of the total investment needs required to reduce the risks in all our wastewater systems in the catchment to band 0 (not significant). This concept of “Band Reduction” and full details of the process for extrapolation are explained in the Technical Summary on Programme Appraisal.

A graph to illustrate the extrapolation of investment needs across the whole river basin catchment is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels: Extrapolated investment needs and risk band reduction

The Programme Appraisal for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels identified the following needs.

  • A total of 48 band reductions are required in 2020 to reduce the risks across the 14 planning objectives in the four wastewater systems.
  • By 2050, this requirement will increase to 54 band reductions due to the impact of climate change, growth and creep.
  • The options identified to date would cost around £443 million for the four systems and are expected to provide 26 band reductions in 2050 (the options do not result in a band 0 for all risks).
  • The Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels consists of 18 wastewater systems, which require 73 band reductions in 2020 and 88 band reductions by 2050 in order to achieve band 0 across 14 planning objectives.
  • Extrapolating the investment needs for all the systems in the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels will cost around £1.01 billion for a population of 322,000. This illustrates the scale of investment needed to get to band 0 by 2050 for all 14 planning objectives.

These investment needs provide indicative costs that allow us to understand the level of funding required to reduce the risks. The funding hasn't been secured at this stage. The DWMP informs the development of our 5 yearly Business Plan which is submitted to our economic regulator, Ofwat, to agree on how we should invest the money received from our customer bills.

 

Consultation on the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment

We held a preliminary consultation on our draft DWMP in September and October 2021. The purpose of the consultation was to gain feedback and advice from our customers and organisations on our developing Plan.

We specifically asked about:

  • our Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report
  • our selection of wastewater systems to take forward into the Options Development and Appraisal stage of the DWMP in the first cycle, and
  • our developing plans for each of the 11 river basin catchments.

Our report on the initial DWMP consultation is now available.

When we consulted on the developing plans for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels River Basin Catchment, you highlighted key issues for us to take into consideration.

  • Building new and improving existing infrastructure to meet the demands of future growth and development as well as resolving issues of new connections, for example, connections at Bexhill had not yet been delivered.
  • Capacity issues, the poor condition of wastewater assets and misconnections are linked to pollution and discharge risks, affecting the potential to achieve GES and protect environmentally sensitive areas.
  • The source – pathway – receptor model works well but more detail is needed on what can be done now and what needs to be delivered in the future as well as how the system will be improved.

How we responded to the issues raised during the workshops and the preliminary public consultation is set out in our Register of Stakeholder Comments.

We held a full 12-week public consultation on the draft Regional (Level 1) DWMP between Monday 13 June and Monday 05 September 2022. Our Statement of Response to the issues raised and a report and analysis on the consultation is published on the Have your say page.

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