Latest updates

Welcome to the latest on our Water for Life – Hampshire programme, which will help keep taps and rivers flowing, especially during a drought.

Interim update – 29 September 2021

We’re now able to unveil the latest developments in our plans to support our commitment to deliver two vital aims associated with delivering a resilient water future for Hampshire:

  • To protect the Rivers Test and Itchen, two of the world’s finest chalk streams by substantially reducing the amount of water taken from them.
  • To safeguard vital public water supplies now and in future by making up the shortfall via alternative, sustainable sources.

We have been developing a series of potential options to achieve these vital twin aims, alongside investment to reduce leakage and improve water efficiency.

A wide-ranging and collaborative assessment of these options with regulators and other statutory consultees, stakeholders and customers has been completed, including a detailed options appraisal process to consider their likely viability and potential impacts.

Options assessed included a desalination plant, several different configurations of water recycling, using advanced treatment techniques to turn what was previously regarded as wastewater into drinking water. We are also exploring building a new pipeline to transport more water from the Havant Thicket Reservoir to our Otterbourne Water Supply Works in consultation with Portsmouth Water.

Why are we looking at different options now?

From the options appraisal process, water recycling and water transfers were assessed as preferable, particularly when impacts on the environment were considered. Desalination ranked lower than these options.

Consequently, we have written to our regulators informing them that we’re continuing to explore our proposals for water recycling and water transfer solutions and do not intend to further develop plans for desalination.

Mark Wintringham, Head of Delivery for Water for Life – Hampshire, said: “The need for new resources is driven by reductions in the amount of water we can take from Hampshire’s rivers during a drought and accelerated by climate change and a growing population.

“As a result, we are developing a holistic approach to the water resources challenge in Hampshire that will put the county at the vanguard of sustainable water resources solutions.

“Our proposals, which include investing to reduce leakage and improve water efficiency, will help keep Hampshire’s rivers and taps flowing for us and future generations and pave the way for similar approaches for the rest of the region and indeed the country.”

What happens now?

We are now progressing further investigations and development of the remaining options ahead of our next submission to regulators in December 2021, when we will select our preferred solution, before carrying out further engagement and consultation, and starting the planning process.

Submission documents are available within our technical documents.

Past updates

9 September 2021

This update gives an overview of the options appraisal process for our strategic water resource options (desalination, water recycling and water transfers), the timelines involved and the feedback we received from our consultation held earlier this year.

The programme is progressing through a gated regulatory process overseen by the Regulators’ Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID), which comprises Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

What’s happening at the moment?

We’re in the final stages of the options appraisal process before we submit our plans to RAPID at the end of September 2021. Doing so ensures we consider and compare the Base Case (desalination at Fawley) and the alternative options to confirm whether the Base Case is still the 'preferred solution' at this location and at this time.

After this regulatory submission, we will carry out wider engagement and consultation. We look forward to discussing our emerging proposals with you as we progress through the planning process.

As well as the Base Case option of desalination, we’ve also been looking at alternatives such as water recycling and water transfers.

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Engagement and Consultation

We ran a virtual public consultation on the desalination scheme from February to April 2021. We consulted on elements of the desalination Base Case (pipeline routes and inlet/outfall locations) and introduced the concept of back-up alternatives.
Engagement with communities and stakeholders focused around those local to the desalination Base Case scheme. As a result, the feedback focused on issues and impacts likely to be most relevant to those consultees.

You can view the full Consultation Feedback Report here:

Consultation Feedback Report

Next steps

We will present our updated thinking to RAPID at the end of September 2021. Details of the submission and key documents will be shared on our website.

We look forward to discussing our proposals with you as our plans progress.

“Water for Life – Hampshire is part of Southern Water’s commitment to protect and enhance the natural world around us. Our climate is changing and it’s vitally important that we take the right decisions now to ensure that in the future our children and grandchildren can enjoy both a fantastic environment and a clean and plentiful water supply.”
Toby Willison, Director of Environment and Corporate Affairs

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