Wessex Water pays £35k for sewage spill at Dorset nature reserve

The Environment Agency said the pollution had a ‘severe impact’ on aquatic invertebrates over a distance of around 100 metres, which deteriorated water quality

Wessex Water has paid a total of £35,000 after a sewer main burst polluted a nature reserve in Dorset.

The water company offered an enforcement undertaking – an alternative to prosecution – following the incident in January 2018 at Stoborough Heath, which is a National Nature Reserve, jointly owned and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Natural England.

According to the Environment Agency, the pollution had a “severe impact” on aquatic invertebrates over a distance of around 100 metres, which deteriorated water quality.

This was evident from raised levels of ammonia and sewage fungus in the ditch.

The Environment Agency accepted Wessex Water’s offer of £25,000 to the RSPB and £10,000 to Dorset Wildlife Trust.

The water company has spent £50,000 on installing a burst detection system along the rising main that caused the pollution.

Janine Maclean from the Environment Agency said: “The burst rising main at Stoborough had a clear and significant impact on Stoborough Heath.

“The £35,000 enforcement undertaking has ensured local charities and projects benefit and will be spent on improving the local environment. The burst detection system installed by Wessex Water will ensure any future bursts will be detected earlier and prevent significant damage should a similar incident occur in the future.”

A Wessex Water spokesman said: “We have an outstanding record for environmental performance, so this was a regrettable incident. We immediately fixed the problem and an ecology report carried out at the time showed no impact on the main watercourse.

“Our approach is always to improve and enhance the environment and, on the rare occasions things go wrong, put it back in a better position than it was before the problem occurred.”

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