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 Post subject: A very brief intro to water in Horsham‏
PostPosted: Sun, 27 Feb 2011, 12:51 

Joined: Fri, 31 Jul 2009, 15:33
Posts: 665
Location: Holbrook, Horsham
I received this (original as a PDF) from Lucy Borland (Mid Sussex) in mid-January:
Water in Sussex - Who does what?

For sewerage, all England is divided into 10 parts, with Southern Water the statutory sewerage undertaker for all of Sussex.

The legal definition of a sewer is unclear, so responsibility between Southern and West Sussex CC (as Highways Authority) is often in dispute.

For most of Sussex, South East Water is responsible for providing tap water, and Southern Water for taking it away. So most local householders receive two bills, a frequent source of confusion.

Southern Water has its own tap water customers, and also “bulk supplies” water to South East Water.

Southern Water divides Sussex into East and West, with a Process Scientist in charge of the Sewage Treatment Works (STWs) in each division.

There are also private STWs, for example for rural nursing homes,hotels, schools etc, and rural homes with private drainage, ie their own, or shared with a few neighbours, septic tanks.

Halcrow Management Sciences Limited review for OFWAT the data supplied by Southern.

West Sussex CC is a Highways Authority, with responsibility for keeping rain off roads, and maintaining drains which are part of highways.

Water in the National context

The Environment Agency is responsible for issuing permits, monitoring the performance of STWs and ensuring compliance with key EU legislation, such as the Water Framework Directive. It has responsibility for river quality and river flooding.

OFWAT, based Birmingham, is the regulatory body for England and Wales which licenses, sets prices and agrees spending plans in five year cycles for our privatised water and sewerage companies.

Southern Water and South East Water provide information each year, in reports called June Returns, to OFWAT. Civil engineers, called Reporters, publish commentaries on this data on OFWAT’s website. These can be surprisingly informative.

OFWAT requires water companies to provide Supply and Demand management plans, and intervenes if concerned that future supplies are falling behind forecast demand (example at Portsmouth Water).

The Drinking Water Inspectorate for England and Wales (DWI) is responsible for ensuring that tap water meets minimum legal standards and for advising on drinking water quality issues.

Key Legislation - and its local impact

The Water Framework Directive, enacted in the UK in 2003, introduced a river basin management planning approach to water. The EA takes the lead.

The Pitt Report for the government into the floods of 2007 made 92 proposals to overhaul how we deal with rain, including that local authorities should draw up definitive electronic maps of all drainage ditches and streams, making clear who is responsible for maintaining them. Pitt recommended that local authorities must take a stronger overall lead on flooding in their area.

Locally the new West Sussex Strategic Flood Group brings together West Sussex CC, Southern and the EA.

West Sussex County Council has used GPS on all gullies across West Sussex to establish their location and how silted up they are. It is trying to locate all chambers, cesspits, manholes etc by the end of 2011.

A key point is that records of sewers and other water infrastructure are patchy, and responsibilities unclear.

Horsham and the River Arun

Landowners are largely oblivious as to their responsibilities for clearing ditches, creeks etc and those living by rivers may no longer receive any economic benefits from these responsibilities. River transport is now of little importance and most homeowners in Sussex are not making a living off their land - but we have not adapted our legislative and administrative framework to the new reality.

In the case of Horsham, the opening of the rail link to Guildford undermined the finances of the Arun Canal (see, and the economic importance of the river to the town.

Useful documents for Horsham

The report below sets out some of the issues for Horsham on “surface water management” ie what happens when it rains. How this issue is tackled is key for water security, as currently heavy rainfall results in raw sewage, litter, oil etc flowing into our rivers (there goes the quality). Conversely, retaining or building more ponds and reservoirs in which rainfall can collect both protects water quality and provides reserves (for irrigating allotments etc) in dry summers.

Where does South East Water get our drinking water from?

From, South East Water abstract from the Ashdown sandstones to supply the Weald area, but also use surface water in Horsham (use link for map).

South East Water (which as a company merged with Mid Kent, so it serves two distinct regions in southern England) has two reservoirs in Sussex, at Ardingly and, a long, long way from Horsham at Arlington, where water is abstracted from the river Cuckmere. South East Water has 172 groundwater abstraction points, and 11 surface water points. It has 93 water treatment works and 224 service reservoirs (small reservoirs used for local storage).

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket - George Orwell

 Post subject: Re: A very brief intro to water in Horsham‏
PostPosted: Mon, 28 Feb 2011, 00:52 
TH member

Joined: Fri, 07 Aug 2009, 22:22
Posts: 275
Interesting post, thanks Mark.

Regarding “surface water management” in the report to HDC council cabinet document, there is actually relatively little reference to the need for retaining or building more ponds and reservoirs, (SUDS) and lots of reference to the need for owners to keep drains clear etc which can actually make the problem worse. Flash Floods are mentioned several times, but the need to reduce "Flashiness" is not emphasised.....

In addition to the SUDS endorsed by the West Sussex Strategic Flood Group , deliberate creation of larger upstream flood plains is perhaps possible, as is the deliberate building up of soil humus (which would have other beneficial c2 and fertility advantages) ....and certainly it would be relatively easy to impose the building in of some extra retention capacity for each new developement through planning.

Should this be brought to the attention of the West Sussex Strategic Flood Group who are best placed to take some action? is anybodys guess what can be done when most of the watershed is controlled by private individuals. There may be a case for the taking of strategic areas of land into public ownership.


 Post subject: Re: A very brief intro to water in Horsham‏
PostPosted: Mon, 28 Feb 2011, 16:16 
TH member

Joined: Sun, 02 Aug 2009, 21:25
Posts: 471
Location: Holbrook, Horsham., UK
Yes, very interesting. Thanks Mark.

The controls seem to be all about potability (which is a good thing) but not availability. What I would like to know is to what extent is supply meeting demand and what are the prospects for the future? I have a visit booked to Southern's water treatment facility and intend to ask.

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