Sewer work helps seal the deal for Dorset coast protection

A new phase of the mission to protect the environment on and around Dorset’s iconic Chesil Beach is taking place in West Bexington.

About the work

We’re relining more than 800 metres of sewers within the coastal village on the Jurassic Coast as part of the drive to progressively reduce the automatic discharge of untreated stormwater.

Our teams will reinforce the network on two roads near the beach by sealing pipes, safeguarding the environment by preventing foul water escaping and groundwater entering sewers, which can lead to flooding or storm overflows automatically releasing into rivers or the sea if the system becomes overwhelmed.

Boosting our investment

The £180,000 project will boost the company’s recent investment in beefing up the protection of the UNESCO World Heritage Site coastline up towards the £1 million mark, following the completion of an £800,000 pipeline last year.

That year-long scheme saw a replacement rising main sewer, stretching for nearly a mile between sewage pumping stations at West Bexington and Gorselands, near Swyre, increase sewer capacity and help to cope with sudden increases in water volume.

Further upgrades to ensure foul water is pumped away from the public toilets on the beach at West Bexington were also completed to help reduce the number of times a nearby storm overflow operates automatically by 50 per cent.

A further project, to separate rainwater from the foul sewers on Beach Road in the village, is at the planning stage, further reducing automatic discharges from overflows that relieve the threat of overwhelmed combined sewers flooding homes and businesses during heavy rain.

Project manager Paul Delves said: “Relining the sewers in West Bexington continues our commitment towards protecting this historically important and popular area, with Chesil Beach and the South West Coast Path that is well used by walkers, as well as a coastal reed bed close by.

“Sealing them in this way further helps protect the network from being overwhelmed which can lead to flooding or the release of untreated wastewater and it backs up the results achieved by the major pipeline project we completed in the area last year.

"We’re now working closely with local customers to finalise details of a further project to separate rainwater from the foul sewer system in this area, which will also help to reduce these discharges."

The relining work will start on Monday 26 February 2024 and continue until Friday 15 March 2024, using ‘no-dig’ techniques, which are quicker and less intrusive than replacing the pipe in a conventional manner.

A length of Swyre Road, to the junction with Beach Road, in the village will be closed to through traffic between Monday 26 February and Friday 8 March, with Beach Road closed from the junction with Swyre Road from Monday 11 to Friday 15 March.

Relining work will also be taking place at the public toilets near the beach between Monday 4 and Friday 8 March 2024.

How else are we protecting Dorset’s coastline?

We have already completed a host of work to protect the environment in Dorset, including a £500,000 investment to separate rainwater from the sewer system around historic Portland Bill Lighthouse from untreated wastewater in 2022.

We have committed £1.4 billion between 2020 and 2025 to reduce overflow discharges and minimise the environmental impact of its sewage treatment processes.

Elsewhere in the county, the health of rivers such as the Stour and Avon is being enhanced by in excess of £10 million of investment at water recycling centres to help reduce overflow operations.

More than £30 million is being funnelled towards protecting the beaches around Bournemouth courtesy of a 40 per cent increase in storage capacity at the water recycling centre at Holdenhurst and last summer, more than half a million pounds was spent relining nearly a mile of sewer pipes throughout the county.

We have also unveiled proposals to invest a record £400 million towards the goal of reducing overflow operation in its next five-year investment period between 2025 and 2030, subject to approval by industry regulators.