◻️ Call for water quality sampling in the harbour to restart

[February 2023]

The Labour group on the Borough Council are calling for negotiations with Portsmouth City Council to reinstate regular water quality testing in Langstone Harbour.  This will allow us to understand the environmental, health and safety impact within the harbour in a data-driven way.

Phil Munday, who is proposing the motion says:

Before 2016 Havant used to test the water in Langstone Harbour.  Chichester Council still fund testing in Chichester Harbour  If we reinstate testing, we can also verify Southern Water’s claims about Budds Farm £20M investment on water quality and better protect our residents who use the harbour from the effects of harmful pathogens like E-coli.’

Langstone Harbour Water Quality Testing

There are significant and growing concerns about the impact on water quality in Langstone Harbour from Southern Water’s stormwater discharges containing raw untreated human excrement from Budds Farm and several other large bore sewage outfalls.

For each of the last 2 years 66,000+ minutes of putrid and filthy discharge have been dumped into our harbour;  Escherichia coli (E-Coli) can cause human infection, diarrhoea, vomiting and other undesirable medical issues.  The damage caused to the environment and its ecology from other bacteria, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, chemicals and plastics all known to be present in sewage is already documented as being significant.  In late 2022 E-Coli was measured near Budds Farm in the harbour at 380,000 cfu/100ml; that is 760 times more than the 500 cfu/100ml minimum safe limit defined by the Bathing Water Directive.  There are multiple hot spots within 1km of Budds Farm where sailors, windsurfers and paddle boarders regularly congregate; these people often report sickness and infection and yet there are no warning signs for them!  We really need to protect these residents.  We also need to protect our harbour’s environment for it is the biggest carbon sink in the area and we have already and recently set an ambitious carbon reduction policy.

Routine testing will be a useful tool to demonstrate the significant harm done to the harbour and people who use the harbour by Southern Water; that data will not only be useful for water users to understand sewage impact on their health but this could also be used to influence Southern Water’s investment decisions going forward, the most recent of which (£22M) will have very little impact on harbour pollution from Budds Farm stormwater.

We are asking for routine water quality testing in Langstone Harbour looking specifically for e-coli bacteria, which we already know are present in the harbour as a result of stormwater pollution.  Individual samples only cost in the region of £20 per sample.  Sampling already occurs in Chichester harbour every 2 weeks in summer and this has been proven to be useful.  Please could we as a Council fund this initiative.  The suggestion is that joint funding and collaboration with Portsmouth City Council makes perfect sense giving an immediate 50% financial discount; collaborative approaches to Chichester District Council could yield further economies of scale.  There may also be the possibility of using volunteer citizen scientists to help keep costs down.

At this time of significant distrust of the water utility companies and specifically of Southern Water, surely we owe this to our residents who use the Harbour to keep them safe and we owe this to our harbour to protect its ecology and its carbon absorbing properties which are both being seriously eroded.