Sir George Young convened a meeting in his office at the House of Commons to try to resolve the sewage problems in St Mary Bourne. For weeks, the village has been subject to tankering and overpumping as the sewage system has been swamped by rising water levels and many of the residents had been in touch with Sir George asking him to intervene.
Attending the meeting were Matthew Wright, Chief Executive Officer from Southern Water, and James Humphrys, Area Manager, Solent and South Downs, from the Environment Agency. Bridget Culley, Chairman of St Mary Bourne Parish Council, and Parish Councillor Ray Randall represented the village
“I was most grateful to all four for coming to the meeting at the House of Commons, where we discussed both the short term problems that confront those who live in the village, and also discussed a long term solution to try to avoid the consequences of the high water levels which the village is experiencing at the moment”.
“It was clear to me that the costs of tankering and over-pumping are very high indeed, and Southern Water has a clear incentive to avoid these costs by investing in a satisfactory long term solution. I was pleased to hear from Matthew Wright that there are no financial constraints to finding an appropriate long term solution”.
“With the water table where it is, it is clearly difficult for Southern Water to put the deficiencies right; but I was pleased to hear that, when the water levels subside, they will be dealing with the laterals – the branches that feed into the sewers - which are now the responsibility of Southern Water; and will also be having a dialogue with owners whose drains may be suffering from ingression, and therefore helping to contribute to the current difficulties. Hopefully, dealing with the laterals and securing the private drains will help provide a long term solution by making the sewer more secure. They also have some other solutions, which involve lowering the level of the water table, by investing in land drainage in the area. Other stakeholders will also be contacted to make sure that, for example, the local ditches are properly drained”.
“I have asked Southern Water for a letter setting out their strategy for dealing with the problem, and this also includes some potential long term solutions, such as inserting a new pipe within the existing one, if that is the appropriate long term solution.”
Sir George also raised the issue of the noise of those living near Vitacress, where the overpumping takes place all night, making sleep difficult for local residents. The option of an electric pipe is being investigated, at the request of Ray Randall.