Southern Water consultation November 2022

The formal consultations closed on Monday, 20 February, however the petition is still open so please click the image below to sign:

Update – 23 January ’23
Alun Newman and Dominic Blake from Radio Solent covered the Southern Water Proposal in its morning broadcast on Monday 23 January, including interviews with residents, Havant Borough Council, Southern Water and an independent consultant. Listen to this content at this new HBM blog post.


This web page gives information on Southern Water’s plans for effluent recycling via Havant Thicket Reservoir. It tells you about the consultations taking place and highlights issues of concern. If you are worried about the proposal the most important action you can take is to respond to Defrathe organisation which can exert the most pressure on Southern Water to change or re-evaluate their plans. Details on how to do this are provided. For more information read on.

Your feedback can make a difference – Two years ago, Southern Water was forced to drop a previous proposal to build a desalination plant at Ashlett Creek near Fawley, bowing to pressure from local residents, New Forest District Council, the local MP and the regulators.  Last year, an application by AQUIND Interconnector was successfully deferred due to local residents’ actions, strongly supported by Portsmouth City Council and the two local MPs.

There will be no planning application to the local council for this plan, so make sure you have your say now.

Effluent recycling plans

Southern Water have published their draft Water Resources Management Plan which confirms that they have selected the Budds Farm option for effluent recycling via Havant Thicket Reservoir as their preferred solution for meeting future increasing demand for drinking water in Hampshire. Their proposal is to take the final effluent from the Budds Farm Sewage Treatment Works (STW), undertake additional treatment at a new plant to be built at Broadmarsh in Havant, then discharge this recycled water into the Havant Thicket Reservoir to mix with the spring water.

From the reservoir it will be pumped to both Farlington Water Treatment Works, for distribution to Portsmouth Water customers, and via a new pipeline 40km across Hampshire to Otterbourne Water Treatment Works for distribution to Southern Water customers. The reservoir water containing recycled effluent will also flow from the reservoir to the Riders Lane stream, on to the Hermitage Stream and into Langstone Harbour.

If the plan goes ahead, from about 2032 onwards, at least 7.5 million litres of the recycled effluent will be discharged into the reservoir every day of the year, with the volume increasing to 15 million litres a day when they need more water or the reservoir is filling. The consultation confirms that in the future they may increase the volume discharged into the reservoir up to 60 million litres a day.

Note: To give you an idea of what this means; 7.5Ml/d is equivalent to 3 Olympic sized swimming pools, doubled for 15Ml/d and 60 Ml/d equates to 24 Olympic sized swimming pools of recycled water being pumped into the reservoir every day. An Olympic sized pool is 50m x25m x 2m, with a volume of 2500m3.(Ml/d means million litres per day)

Southern Water propose to build the effluent recycling plant at Broadmarsh in Havant on a former landfill site. A new pipeline would be constructed through Bedhampton and Leigh Park to carry the treated water to be stored in the Havant Thicket Reservoir. A new 40km pipeline will be built to carry water from the reservoir to Otterbourne Water Treatment Works for onward supply to Southern Water customers. However, when Portsmouth Water take any water from the reservoir after about 2032 it will be a mix of spring water and recycled effluent, which will be distributed to their customers via the Farlington Water Treatment Works.

For further detail to help you understand the impacts of the Southern Water proposal, or for discussion of some of the Challenges to Southern Water that you might consider relevant when forming your own opinion, please take the menu options in the sidebar of this page or click the links in this paragraph.


The key concerns

Ask yourself if you think the proposal for effluent recycling provides a best value plan for customers or the environment. Things to consider are summarised in the numbered bullets below:

  1. We get plenty of rain to collect & store, why do we need to treat & recycle sewage effluent for drinking water? (Read more)
  2. Southern Water has a very poor track record on pollution incidents and compliance with Regulations. Will you trust them to properly treat the recycled effluent? (Read more)
  3. The water taken from the reservoir will taste different. If you know it contains treated recycled effluent, will you drink the water? If not, what are the impacts for you of buying bottled water and for the environment? (Read more)
  4. It will require a large amount of infrastructure to be built, plus many chemicals and significant amounts of energy to operate daily which we, the customers, will have to pay for in our bills. (Read more)
  5. It will have a very high environmental and carbon impact during construction & operation, the planet will pay the cost. (Read more)
  6. The planned daily discharge of recycled effluent into Havant Thicket Reservoir will have adverse impacts on the reservoir wetland and biodiversity. (Read more)
  7. The impacts on Langstone Harbour have not been fully assessed. (Read more)
  8. There will be no application to the Local Planning Authority for permission for effluent recycling, despite assurances given at the time of the reservoir planning application. (Read more)


Make DEFRA aware of your concerns

The most important action you can take is to respond to Defra, the organisation which can exert the most pressure on Southern Water.

The draft Southern Water Plan has been submitted to the Department of Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) for approval, as the government department responsible for water. If you are concerned about the proposal for effluent recycling via the Havant Thicket Reservoir, and then on into your drinking water, it is essential that you make Defra aware of your concerns.

The most effective way to do this is to email Defra, copying Southern Water and Water Resources South East (WRSE), the organisation which prepared the draft Regional Plan that includes the effluent recycling proposal.

Remember – These current consultations closed on Monday, 20 February

Click on this link and your email program will open with the subject and email addresses details pre-set.

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It is also important that you send your concerns to Water Resources in South East (WRSE) who have prepared the draft Regional Plan which also includes the effluent recycling proposal.

If the Southern Water effluent recycling plan goes ahead, many Portsmouth Water customers will also receive the recycled water when Portsmouth Water take water from the Havant Thicket Reservoir to supply to their customers after 2032. However, because the effluent recycling infrastructure will not be built by Portsmouth Water it is not included in their draft plan, which is also out for consultation. If you are concerned about this, then email Defra with your feedback, copying Portsmouth Water on your reply.

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Consultation document links

The proposal for effluent recycling via the Havant Thicket Reservoir to provide your drinking water is now included in two consultation documents available for comment. The first is from Southern Water, the second from Water Resources South East, click on the images below which will open the web pages allowing you to view the relevant documents and complete each survey.

Southern Water – Water Resources Management Plan


Water Resources South East – Regional Plan


You can find more information on the Portsmouth Water draft Water Resources Management Plan by clicking the image below. Note that this is also open for consultation.

Portsmouth Water – Water Resources Management Plan


Please take the time to review these consultation sources and complete your responses. All three of these plans are open for public consultation until Monday 20 February 2023.


This project does not have to happen

This is currently still a proposal which is out for consultation. The effluent recycling project does not have to happen and these consultations provide you with the opportunity to have your say and influence where your drinking water should come from. There is time to make Southern Water reconsider their plans to find a better, more environmentally friendly solution.

It is important to understand that there will be no planning application to the Local Planning Authority for this scheme. Southern Water has already announced that they will not apply to the local Council for planning permission, instead they will apply for a Development Consent Order, stating that the project is a ‘National Strategic Infrastructure Project’ and enabling the Secretary of State to take the decision out of the local authorities hands.  This makes it even more important that local people have their say now while they have the chance.


If you need any more information – email the campaign team at the address below: