Bath-based Wessex Water says it is investing £3 million per month to tackle storm overflows and reduce how often they operate in the area.
The company’s Storm Overflows Improvement Plan will see every overflow in the region monitored by 2023, while the number of hours storm overflows discharge will be reduced by 25%.
New storm tanks will be built, nature-based solutions, like wetlands and reed-beds in rural locations introduced, and work will be carried out to separate rainwater from the sewer system.
There will also be continued investment in artificial intelligence monitoring at wild swimming sites to provide near real time information. A WebApp for Warleigh Weir, near Bath, is already being tested.
Wessex Water has said capacity is being increased at the company’s water recycling centre in Saltford to enable more stormwater to be stored and treated.
Storm overflows have always been part of the UK’s sewerage network because most sewers carry both rainwater and foul sewage.
The overflows prevent contaminated rainwater backing up and flooding people’s homes.
Published river water quality data shows their impact on the water environment is minimal because of the dilution during rainfall. All overflows are licensed by the Environment Agency.
Matt Wheeldon, Director of Asset Strategy and Compliance said: “We understand the concerns about storm overflows and agree they should have no place in a 21st century sewerage system.
“This major investment is the start of decisive action to tackle storm overflows, and our longer-term improvement plan sets out the further progress we will make over the coming years.
“We have 1,300 overflows across the Wessex Water region, so it will take time and significant resources to eliminate them.
“By committing to spend £3 million every month on overflows, starting with those that discharge most frequently and those that have any environmental impact, we will make a good start.”