There were spills in the Solent at locations around the Isle of Wight yesterday (Monday), following heavy rain.
Warnings had already been put in place for Cowes, Bembridge and St Helens, Sandown and Ryde after earlier discharges ‘within 72 hours’.
Today’s warnings are for Yarmouth, Cowes and Bembridge, after Southern Water used its drainpipes between around 8 and 9.30pm on Monday.
Last month, in an area-wide email, Southern Water said: “Extreme rainfall can overwhelm the combined sewer and drainage system that exists in many parts of our region.
“To protect homes, schools and businesses from flooding, there were overflows – releasing excess water into the sea.
“These discharges are highly diluted, generally consisting of 95% rainwater.
“We are committed to significantly reducing storm overflows and are running innovative pilot projects across the region to reduce the amount of rain entering our combined sewers by 2030.”
Last night thunderstorms swept across the island.
Utility companies are under increasing pressure to invest more in infrastructure and find alternatives to pumping waste into our seas and rivers.
In late August, Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely shared details of Defra’s (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) plan to tackle the problem.
Revealed in a social media announcement, Defra called it the “largest infrastructure program in the history of water companies to tackle sewage spills and end pollution”.
He said water companies will need to meet their targets so that discharges only occur when there are exceptionally heavy rains and when there is no immediate negative impact on the local environment. .
In the storm overflow flow reduction plangoals and challenges are set out for water companies and government – along with a warning for bill payers.
According to the plan, storm overflows will only be allowed an average of 10 times a year, by 2050.
Harmful pathogens must be reduced near bathing areas, where water quality is monitored between early May and late September, “either: by applying disinfection; or by reducing the frequency of discharges to meet safety standards. Environment Agency spill by 2035”.
Fines and threats of imprisonment for managing directors and board members, in the most serious cases, will be introduced.
There is also a warning for owners.
As the cost of living crisis looms, from 2025 water bills will rise – with warnings of variations depending on where we live.