A coastal walk and public meeting with Wessex Water have been organised by local clean water campaigners. Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting on Fri 15thMarch 7pm, Portland Community Venue. 

Last month, fifty people took part in the Pollution Solution Community Assembly on Portland. Attendees recognised there are several sources of pollution into our seas and rivers, such as sewage, agricultural and road runoff, and plastics. Everyone said sewage is a BIG problem. 

A problem for people’s health and well-being, for the local economy, for tourism and fishing, for swimming, leisure, and wildlife. Putting pressure on Wessex Water, with better regulation, supported by people-with-power and influence, was the suggested way forward from the discussions.

Campaigner Caz Dennett, who has not paid the sewerage charge part of her water bill for nearly a year, says, “Sewage is not the only pollution, but it is the one that has a single source. We know who is causing it, the water companies, like Wessex Water, who mismanage our waste water in Dorset. We just want clean, safe water. That’s a reasonable ask.

“I recently analysed data from Wessex Water that shows there are many more sewage outfalls around Weymouth and Portland, that we didn’t previously know about. Only outfalls at designated bathing waters or assumed amenity waters are publicised. There are 18 sewage discharge sites, compared to 8 published on their website, and therefore monitored by the Surfers Against Sewage app. We’ve been fooled.”https://www.wessexwater.co.uk/bathing-waters

Julie-Ann Booker has helped organise many Dirty Water protests by Extinction Rebellion in central Weymouth over the past year or so. She says, “Everyone we speak to says they’re fed up with the private water companies charging us for managing waste water, but dumping the sewage in our seas and rivers, and then pocketing big profits and bonuses. Not only is it a public health scandal, it is a total rip-off. People are sickened and angry. They believe we deserve better, and nature and wildlife deserve better.”

Wessex Water representatives have agreed to come and listen to people’s concerns at the public meeting. They are keen to answer questions and engage with suggestions. 

The team has also agreed to take a walk with campaigners and water users before the meeting. The group will walk along the coast path in Weymouth and Portland, visiting the numerous sewage outfalls where sewage has been discharged. 

There is also a sewage outfall at Ferrybridge into the Fleet Lagoon, a Marine Protected Area. Its existence has not been well publicised. Nature protection agencies locally, and water users have not been aware of it until now.

Wessex Water says the Ferrybridge outfall has not discharged sewage since their records started in 2016, but it is operational. The permit granted by the Environment Agency states it can be used in an “emergency.”. For example, it could be opened to prevent sewage from backing up into people’s properties and homes, if the sewerage system becomes overwhelmed by excessive rainfall. The risk is increasing as climate change is causing heavier and more frequent rainfalls. New housing developments will also put more pressure on the inadequate sewage system.

Local sea-swimmer Val Graves looks forward to greater transparency from Wessex Water and will co-chair the public meeting. Val reflects, “It has been quite a surprise to learn there are more sewage outfalls that discharge into Radipole Lake, Weymouth Harbour, and Portland Harbour. This really impacts our local area, and for swimmers, it is critical that we know when sewage is present. I really welcome the opportunity for this discussion, and urge greater transparency, accountability, and improvements from Wessex Water.”.

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