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We're working on plans for a scheme to help secure water supplies for customers in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight.
It is vital that we improve the way we use and manage the sources of water in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to provide a better balance for both the environment and customers.
Our plans to secure drinking water supplies for 711,000 people across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are laid out in our Water Resources Management Plan.
Central to the plans is a 19km pipeline, which was first explored as an option in 2012. It will be capable of transferring up to 45 million litres of water a day between our Testwood and Otterbourne water supply works. The pipeline will carry raw, untreated water from the River Test to Otterbourne, where it will be treated and then supplied to homes in the eastern part of the county.
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The scheme is required because the amount of water we are allowed to take from the River Itchen will be limited in future times of extreme drought to help protect the river’s ecology. This means there is a need to balance this reduction with an increase in the amount of water taken from alternative sources, including the River Test, in order to maintain customers’ supplies.
The Testwood to Otterbourne pipeline will provide an essential strategic link between the two sites, making the network more resilient and flexible by allowing us to move water around the area more easily, especially during times of drought.
Meanwhile, a new bulk supply of up to 15 million litres of treated water a day from Portsmouth Water at Gaters Mill is also being implemented and will be used when required. For more information on this scheme, click here.
The programme’s third element, which was assessed and agreed alongside various organisations over many years, was a project at Candover to top up the River Itchen with water abstracted from the chalk aquifer – bringing further resilience to the river during extreme drought.
However, the Environment Agency (EA) has since announced plans to renew its Candover abstraction licence at a much reduced five million litres a day rather than the 27 million litres a day we expected.
We had planned to adopt the licence from the EA for short-term use during a severe drought. In light of this recent development, we have suspended any further design or access discussions regarding the Candover scheme until the Environment Agency’s licence renewal process is completed.
Despite the challenge posed by this unforeseen delay, we are pursuing the two other elements of the wider project to ensure we do all we can to secure water supplies for our customers and meet the Habitats Regulation requirement on the River Itchen.
The pipeline scheme and other projects are being implemented alongside ways of reducing water use – such as further reductions in leakage on the network and the roll out of metering which has already helped customers in Hampshire cut their water use by 16.5%.
We're currently working on the planning application and a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment. This is being undertaken to assess any potential impacts that the scheme may have and mitigation work that needs to take place to help protect the environment.
The planning application is expected to be submitted in the new year. It will be made to New Forest District Council, Test Valley Borough Council and Winchester City Council as the scheme crosses these three councils' jurisdictions.
Two public exhibitions were held to give people an opportunity to find out more about the Testwood to Otterbourne pipeline and meet the project team.
Almost 80 people attended the two events at Otterbourne Village Hall and Romsey Town Hall in November.