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New solutions to storm overflows begin to take shape in Whitstable

Southern Water work to reduce storm overflows in Whitstable is starting to see some positive results

Southern Water's work to reduce storm overflows in Whitstable is starting to see some positive results.

Whitstable is home to one of our six pathfinder projects across our region that look at new solutions to reduce storm overflows. This work is being led by Southern Water’s Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force.

Our teams have been busy in the Whitstable area and have carried out a number of interventions that are starting to make a positive impact and reduce storm overflows and help our goal of reducing them by 20 per cent by 2025.

So far in Whitstable our work has included;

  • Installed over 500 water butts in and around Tankerton beach
  • Reconfiguring Swalecliffe Wastewater Treatment Works to Utilise the on site storm water storage before before we use the long sea outfall. This will help reduce storm overflows from the long sea outfall by 30 per cent. This has already prevented a number of storm overflows since being put in place in August.

  • Investing more than £20 million on upgrades to Swalecliffe Wastewater Treatment Works

  • Working with key local groups to provide water quality testing kits

  • Whitstable Library to have a number of rain gardens and tree pits

  • Utilising greener solutions over traditional methods of construction to manage surface water in different ways. This includes the installation of roadside rain gardens and looking to remove surface water from our foul network by green parks and relocating surface water connections.

  • Keeping key groups, businesses organisations and communities informed regularly of our work in the area through regular meetings.

Alongside this we are looking at using new technology that uses artificial intelligence and rainfall data to plan ahead of weather events and utilise the space in the sewer network for temporary storage of storm water. When this technology is up and running in the area it could result in a significant reduction in storm overflow releases at the overflows at Diamond Road and Tankerton Circus.

We’re also looking to turn a much-loved community space at Cornwallis Circle into an area that will help slow the flow of rainwater entering our network.  With the agreement of the local community, we want Cornwallis Circle to have sustainable urban drainage, our plans will create 1.2 hectares (or the size of a cricket pitch) of impermeable land and involve planting trees and making the area even greener.

Southern Water Pathfinder Delivery Lead for Kent, Jon Yates, said:

“Tackling storm overflows is our top priority and I can assure everyone in Whitstable that we’re fully focused on using every tool at our disposal to ensure that storm overflows are significantly reduced.

“We’re doing this through working with partners and creating nature-based and engineering solutions But this work will take time and our focus is to find what works and then scale it up across our region so we can see positive results.”