Rural upgrade helping to keep it clean in Somerset

The mission to safeguard south Somerset’s waterways is receiving a significant boost this summer as millions of pounds are poured into protecting the environment near Yeovil.

A nine-month project will get under way later this month at Hardington Mandeville, near the Dorset border, to beef up the removal of chemicals from wastewater and ensure that untreated water from the sewer system is not discharged automatically after heavy storms.

Nearly £6 million will be spent to expand and enhance the water recycling centre near the village, targeting the removal of pollutants, such as phosphorus and ammonia that are frequently found in many household products, from the sewer flows arriving at the sites.

Increased storage is also being built to reduce the instances of storm overflows operating automatically to relieve the threat of overwhelmed combined sewers flooding homes and businesses following heavy rainfall.

In total, 51,000 litres of storage for mixed rain runoff and wastewater will be constructed at the Hardington Mandeville centre, buying valuable time for its careful treatment before it is safely returned to a nearby brook.

It continues Wessex Water’s £3 million a month investment to tackle storm overflows, the scheme being part of more than £150 million being spent between now and 2025 to help complete nearly 100 projects that will reduce the operation of storm overflows by a quarter, while supporting the environment.

Somerset is benefitting from millions of pounds of investment to tackle the issue just this year, with £12 million going towards similar schemes near the villages of Milverton and Bishop’s Lydeard in the west of the county.

A £7 million scheme to help protect the River Isle, near Ilminster, by removing chemicals from wastewater, is also closing in on completion this autumn.

Hardington Mandeville project manager Rachel Weston said: “This work will help to protect the environment and, as well as increasing the size of some of the treatment equipment at the site, the addition storage will help prevent storm overflows from operating automatically if the sewer system becomes overwhelmed by heavy storms.

"The project is taking place within the boundaries of land owned by Wessex Water, with some of the new infrastructure being housed in a field next to the centre. This means we can complete the construction offline with no interruption to the sewer services for our customers."

The scheme is expected to be completed by next spring.