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Working together to ease flood impact

Southern Water is working closely with local authorities to address flooding issues in the region.

After the wettest year on record in England and the second wettest in the UK, parts of the south have been overwhelmed with rain and underground water levels are at a record high in some areas.

The company is working with councils, the Environment Agency and local flood action groups to ease the impact of this extreme weather and to also improve the long-term situation.

It has also set up a working group to look specifically at the issue of underground water that finds its way into sewers causing them to overflow.

Southern Water Wastewater Manager Simon Parker said: “The amount of rain this winter has been unprecedented and some customers have been experiencing very difficult conditions as a result.

“Helping these customers is a priority for us. In the short term, we have been responding round the clock to incidents. In the long term, we must take measures to ease the impact of extreme weather on our systems. We must step up to the bigger challenge of climate change which is likely to mean more drought and more floods.”

Simon explained the issue of flooding is complex, with different agencies responsible for different aspects of drainage.

That is why the company supported a joint approach which in many cases would help prevent rain getting into the sewers and causing them to flood.

Simon added: “We’ll be working closely with the relevant agencies to formulate action plans.

“One example of this is in West Sussex, where we are working with the county council on its initiative to tackle flooding, launched earlier this month.”

In addition, Southern Water continues a multi-million pound programme of work to further reduce the risk of sewer flooding.

This includes:
• The replacement of 30km of sewers in 2013/14.
• A £20 million scheme to radically alter the sewer system in Portsmouth, Hampshire, to reduce the risk of it becoming overwhelmed during storms.
• A £1.6 million scheme to build new sewers, a pumping station and storm storage tank in Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire.
• Schemes to reduce the risk of flooding to individual properties across the region.

Simon said: “We’re continually investing in our wastewater network but, with almost 40,000km of sewers to maintain, there is always work to do. Our focus is now shifting to what can be done to prevent problems before they happen, ensuring we’re well prepared for future extreme weather.”

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