Wimborne improvements are a win for Dorset river health

Multi-million pound plans to help preserve the ecology and health of Dorset’s River Stour take a further step forward with the launch of a year-long project in Wimborne this month.

A £4 million investment at the water recycling centre at the edge of the historic market town will protect the environment by reducing the release of untreated wastewater and enhance the removal chemicals and pollutants from sewage arriving at the site.

The work will reduce the instances of storm overflows operating automatically to relieve the threat of overwhelmed sewers flooding homes and businesses following heavy rainfall.Designed as a relief valve to protect homes from flooding, if there is too much rainfall in the system, the overflow automatically discharges into watercourses.

However, the increased capacity at Wimborne will keep more mixed rain runoff and wastewater in tanks at the centre before it is treated and returned to the river later.

It is one of two Wessex Water projects getting under way this month to boost the protection of the River Stour, with a further £3 million being invested upstream at the water recycling centre at Gillingham, near the Wiltshire border.

In addition, nearly £2 million is also being spent at Ringwood on the Dorset/Hampshire border as part of work getting started this month to store incoming water from sewers following heavy rainfall, buying valuable time for its careful treatment before it is safely returned to the nearby River Avon.

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

Project manager Kirstie Hearn said: "We’ll be building an additional tank at Wimborne that will increase the overall capacity to retain storm storage by more than a third. When completed, more than 2.2 million litres of water will be able to be stored there before being safely returned to the system for treatment when the storm has receded.

"This is just one way in which Wessex Water is reducing the automatic operation of storm overflows and on top of that, we’re updating some of our other equipment at the site to monitor and remove chemicals, such as ammonia and phosphorous within wastewater."

The scheme, which is taking place entirely within the boundaries of the Wimborne site, is expected to be completed by the end of May of next year.