World Earth Day 2022: Investing in our planet

Earth Day


It’s World Earth Day today and given my passion for the environment, I wanted to share some of the things we’re doing at Southern Water to protect and sustain our planet.

Millions of customers in the South East of England count on us for their vital water and wastewater services. Throughout our daily efforts to ensure water for life, the environment is at the heart of everything we do. We take protecting and improving the precious natural resources we – and our communities – rely on very seriously. That’s why we’re taking a long-term, sustainable approach to planning for the future and working in partnership with our regulators and key stakeholders.

The challenges ahead

While we work to enhance the environment and the biodiversity within it, we know we have some difficult challenges to face up to in our region: climate change will bring heavier rain requiring innovative solutions for surface water run-off; population growth and urbanisation will put increasing pressure on our water-stretched resources; and greenhouse gas emissions will continue to grow unless we all live up to our net zero pledges.

Reducing the amount of surface water entering our sewage system is a vital part of our sustainable drainage plans. Last year we set up our Storm Overflow Task Force, to lead the way on our commitment to reducing spills from combined sewer overflows by 80% by 2030. We are acting now. We’re delivering five pathfinder projects, working in collaboration with numerous partners, and improving Beachbuoy, our near real-time reporting tool for storm overflow activity. All this will ensure we create a sustainable system, fit for the future. Our industry leading Pollution Incident Reduction Plan (PIRP) also shows how we will take action across the business to reduce the number of pollution incidents. 

Working together

To help protect our rivers and seas, we’re working with local partners in catchments to find nature-based solutions to challenges wherever we can. Our Protect our Harbours initiative demonstrates this approach. It regularly brings together stakeholders from the Chichester and Langstone harbours, to look at ways to further reduce the amount of nitrates and phosphates that get into the water and damage habitats.

Our Water for Life Hampshire programme helps protect the rare chalk streams in the Hampshire area by reducing how much water we take from them, as well as exploring new potential water sources for our customers there.

Committing to conservation

The growing population in our region means that we need to take steps to reduce the amount of water we use, becoming more water efficient. We want to halve leakage by 2050 and our Target 100 campaign helps customers understand how they can save water.

Our commitment to becoming operationally carbon neutral by 2030 is supported by a number of pledges in this area. We’re proud to be part of this Water UK initiative and our Net Zero Plan shows our pathway towards our net zero goal.

Believing in better

We serve over 4.7 million customers, so it’s important that our communities benefit from what we do to enhance health and wellbeing, protect and improve the environment, and sustain the economy. While planning and preparing to be compliant with our regulatory obligations is the least our customers and stakeholders should expect from us, we want to go further – we’re committed to protecting and enhancing our precious environment long into the future.

Dr Toby Willison 

Chief Environment & Sustainability Officer