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Budds Farm Waste Water Treatment Works

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 170726, tabled on 17 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the investment made by Southern Water following funding in Government green grants for key environment programmes on measures to increase capacity at Budds Farm wastewater treatment facility to better protect the surrounding environment.

Answered on

26 March 2021

Tackling the harm caused by sewer overflows is a top priority for this Department.

There are currently no projects planned by Southern Water to improve treatment or increase capacity at Budds Farm wastewater treatment facility within this Asset Management cycle (2020-2025). There have been improvement projects to environmental monitoring systems at Budds Farm wastewater treatment facility. The treatment works is complying with its permit and there are have been no recorded breaches of effluent quality standards for this discharge during 2020.

During periods of significant rainfall untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to avoid streets, premises and sewage treatment plants from being flooded. Water companies are committed in the 5-year business planning period (2020-2025) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.1 billion. This investment includes undertaking 800 investigations and 798 improvement schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows.

I met water company CEOs in September and made clear that the volume of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced.

The new Storm Overflows Taskforce - bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs - has agreed to set a long term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. The Taskforce is now working on plans to start making progress towards that goal, and they have commissioned research to gather evidence on the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options.

Water companies are currently producing for the first time comprehensive Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans to assess the capacity of their wastewater networks. We are also taking key steps through the Environment Bill to require water companies to produce such Plans on a statutory basis. These plans will be another tool to help address the risks that storm overflows pose to the environment.