A former Managing Director of Southern Water responded to the draft WRMP condemning their proposal to move to effluent recycling indicating the proposals in the plan are a serious mistake. Instead, in his response to Defra he proposed a solution that would reduce upper catchment abstractions, allowing immediate environmental improvements and the recovery of the rivers that everyone seeks. This would involve simply moving the existing abstractions on rivers (including the River Itchen and Test) to close to the tidal limit, allowing the water to stay in the freshwater environment for the longest time possible. The option to move the Otterbourne abstraction to the tidal limit of the River Itchen is in the Southern Water draft WRMP, but it has been deferred by Southern Water for further consideration in 2029.
Delaying this option makes no sense, the sooner it is selected and implemented, the quicker it will provide a benefit in reducing abstraction in sensitive upper catchments areas, and dramatically reduce the risk of the Company needing to use drought permits.
Subject to appropriate impact assessments we strongly support moving abstractions closer to the tidal limit to protect the freshwater environment, which we believe would be a cheaper and more environmentally friendly solution than effluent recycling.