A PROJECT costing £30million is underway to protect Bournemouth’s beaches by tackling storm overflows and treating more sewage.
Work has begun at Wessex Water’s water recycling centre at Holdenhurst to expand its storage capacity by 40 per cent.
This will ensure it can meet the sewage treatment needs of a growing population.
The company has also re-lined a mile of pipework in Dorset this summer to protect the environment.
Most of Dorset’s beaches are rated ‘excellent’ by the Environment Agency for their water quality, including Bournemouth Pier, Durley Chine and Alum Chine.
Storm overflow discharges have been halved near designated bathing sites in 2022.
The project at Holdenhurst is also removing more phosphorus and other nutrients from wastewater.
Work is also about to start on a wetland next to a sewage pumping station at Lytchett Matravers, the first of its kind in Dorset.
This will provide natural wastewater treatment before it is returned safely to the Poole Harbour catchment.
Matt Wheeldon, Wessex Water’s Director of Infrastructure Development, said: “Although storm overflows are licensed by the Environment Agency to protect properties from flooding and discharge mostly rainwater, we’re committed to reducing how often they operate and are investing more than £3 million every month on schemes to improve them.
“Subject to approval from our regulators, we have plans to more than double the level of investment and deliver more nature-based solutions such as wetlands and reed beds that help to reduce our carbon impacts and minimise bill rises for customers – as well as improving water quality nearby.
“We would love to stop all storm overflow discharges immediately but unfortunately there is no quick fix. So we’re prioritising overflows that discharge to environmentally sensitive areas and bathing waters.”
Wessex Water has developed an artificial intelligence app, too.
This provides real-time monitoring from Bournemouth and Boscombe, which will give a better understanding of current water status.
This will allow people to make more informed decisions when using bathing waters for recreational use.
The company was the first UK company to publish data on storm overflow operations at bathing waters and other recreational areas throughout the year.
It provides this information to councils and Surfers Against Sewage.