Stepping up the nutrient battle in Somerset

The Parrett will be the latest of Somerset's rivers to feel the benefit of enhanced environmental protection.

A new £12 million project gets underway outside Langport next month.

Teams will move on to the water recycling centre site serving the town in October to begin a major upgrade that will beef up the ability to remove harmful chemicals, including some that are frequently found in many household products, from wastewater.

New systems and tanks will be installed to boost the treatment process prior to water being safely returned to the environment, with improvements to electrical equipment on site also included.

The work forms part of Wessex Water's drive to reduce the impact of nutrients on the region's rivers and streams, including phosphorus, ammonia and nitrogen that are frequently found in many household products and make their way into the flows arriving at water recycling centres.

Farm slurries, agricultural fertilisers and septic tanks are also sources of high concentrations of nutrients, which can cause excessive growths of algae and damage the ecology of rivers and streams.

Wessex Water project manager Victoria Plummer said: “By investing heavily in improving the water recycling centre at Langport, we can ensure the quality of treated wastewater continues to meet the highest standard, improving water quality and the environment in and around the River Parrett.

“This work will also make sure the site continues to keep pace with our regulated water industry obligations as we continue our mission to protect the ecology of our watercourses from the impact of chemicals.’’

The Langport project continues Wessex Water’s hefty investment towards enhancing river quality in Somerset, with well over £30 million worth of work having started or finished this year, including schemes to reduce the automatic discharge of diluted untreated wastewater.

A £9.5 million project to boost both the treatment and storage of wastewater is already underway at North Petherton, next to the M5 motorway near Bridgwater. 

Meanwhile at Hardington Mandeville, near the Dorset border, more than £6 million is being invested to expand and enhance the water recycling centre, including the targeting and removal of phosphorus and the provision of storm storage.

More than £12 million is being spent to do likewise at rural sites at Milverton and Bishop’s Lydeard this autumn and winter, tripling and doubling the capacity at each respectively, as well as increasing storm storage at Bishops Lydiard.

And a project concluding at the water recycling centre at Ilminster in October saw £7 million of new storage and chemical removal added. 

Work at Langport will get under way in October and is expected to be completed by March 2025.

Further information about the work Wessex Water is completing to protect rivers and coastal areas is available here.