The drive to protect West Dorset’s waterways will be further enhanced in 2024 courtesy of a £1.5 million investment next to the village of Toller Porcorum.
Improvements to the rural village’s water recycling centre getting under way in the spring will help to prevent untreated diluted wastewater from reaching the nearby River Hooke via the automatic operation of storm overflows.
Wessex Water will build a new storage tank, capable of holding up to 27,000 litres of excess water from combined sewers, at the site in a project that is expected to conclude in February 2025.
The added capacity will help the system – that transfers both foul water from people’s homes and rainwater from downpipes and drains to a nearby water recycling centre for treatment – cope during periods of heavy rainfall.
Excess water will be hosted in the tank before later being pumped back into the sewer pipes and onwards to the centre for proper treatment and safe return to the environment.
Currently, if the sewers become overwhelmed, overflows are designed as a relief valve to protect homes from flooding by automatically discharging into watercourses.
Wessex Water project manager Chris Harrison said:
“We’re investing £3 million a month towards reducing how often storm overflows operate and schemes like this ensure we can protect the environment and help to improve the quality of treated wastewater.’’
The bulk of the work at Toller Porcorum will begin in May, with Wessex Water beginning work to prepare the site for the enhancements next month.
The company has already invested heavily in a number of other recent schemes in west Dorset to reduce the instances of overflows automatically operating.
Earlier this year, an £800,000 project to pump wastewater away from the villages of West Bexington, where Chesil Beach lies on the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jurassic Coast, and Swyre, via a new rising main sewer was completed.
That followed a £500,000 investment to protect the coastline around historic Portland Bill Lighthouse by separating rainwater from the system carrying foul water from nearby homes, businesses and public toilets.
Elsewhere in the county, the health of rivers such as the Stour and Avon is being enhanced by in excess of £10 million of investment at water recycling centres to help reduce overflow operation.
More than £30 million is being funnelled towards protecting the beaches around Bournemouth courtesy of a 40 per cent increase in storage capacity at the water recycling centre at Holdenhurst.
And last summer alone, Wessex Water spent more than half a million pounds relining nearly a mile of sewer pipes throughout the county as the company commits £1.4 billion between 2020 and 2025 to reduce overflow discharges and minimise the environmental impact of its sewage treatment processes.
The company has also unveiled proposals to invest a record £400 million towards the goal of reducing overflow operation in its next five-year investment period between 2025 and 2030, subject to approval by industry regulators.