New pipeline protecting precious Dorset coast

A £800,000 project that will help to protect the environment by cutting the discharges of untreated stormwater on Dorset’s historic Jurassic Coast has been completed.

Wessex Water's substantial investment will ensure wastewater continues to be pumped away from the villages of West Bexington, where Chesil Beach lies on the UNESCO World Heritage Site coastline, and Swyre.

The year-long scheme will reduce the number of times a nearby storm overflow operates automatically. Instead, a replacement rising main sewer, stretching for nearly a mile between sewage pumping stations at West Bexington and Gorselands, near Swyre, will increase sewer capacity and help to cope with sudden increases in water volume.

Further improvement work has also been carried out at both sites to upgrade pumps and a new rising main has been installed from the Gorselands site to a discharge manhole on the nearby B3157 Coast Road.

The scheme, which will also ensure foul water is pumped away from the public toilets on the beach at West Bexington, will be backed up by further renovation of sewers within the Beach Road and Swyre Road area. A project to separate surface water from the foul sewers on Beach Road is also being planned, further reducing the automatic operation of overflows.

Project manager Paul Delves said: “The investment we have made between West Bexington and Swyre will ensure that the number of times the overflow operates automatically is halved, helping us to protect the historically important Jurassic Coast.

"This is a popular area, with Chesil Beach, the South West Coast Path that is used by lots of walkers and a coastal reed bed close by, and completing out this project will mean it continues to be protected in future years."

Work started last August, Wessex Water using directional drilling underground across fields for the replacement rising sewer main to limit the impact on local communities as much as possible.

The project team took special care to sensitively manage local habitats while completing their work, with the area home to protected species including the hazel dormouse, hedgehogs, harvest mouse, moths, great crested newts, water voles and a variety of plants, butterflies and birds.

Wessex Water also contributed funding towards a brand-new bus shelter on the B3157 after being approached by Puncknowle and Swyre Parish Council during the design phase of the scheme.

Project manager Paul Delves added: “We were very pleased to be able to give something back to thank the parish council and local community for their patience while our work was carried out."

The completion of the West Bexington scheme follows Wessex Water’s nearby £500,000 investment to protect the coastline around historic Portland Bill Lighthouse from untreated wastewater.

The two-month Portland scheme, completed last year, separated surface water, such as rain running off nearby roofs and roads, from the system that carries foul water from homes, businesses and the public toilets in the lighthouse car park.

Wessex Water is investing £3 million a month to 2025 to tackle storm overflows, which automatically operate during heavy rainstorms to protect properties from flooding, preventing sewage from overflowing into streets and homes.

Since 2000, the company has invested £181 million upgrading more than 582 storm overflows.