CSG backs action against Hampshire chalk stream pollution

16 August 2023 by CSG

Leading waste management specialist CSG has thrown its support behind a campaign to tackle off-mains drainage pollution to Hampshire’s chalk streams. CSG is collaborating with a partnership of environmental organisations – led by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Wessex Rivers Trust – to promote their Septic Smart project.

Hampshire’s chalk streams, including the world-famous Test and Itchen, provide a perfect habitat for species like water vole, brown trout, southern damselfly, water crowfoot and white-clawed crayfish. There are only about 210 chalk streams in the world, and most of them are found in the southern half of England.

These chalk streams can be damaged by phosphates, pathogens, nutrients, nitrates and ammonia from leaking cesspits, septic tanks, and sewage treatment plants. Sewage pollution is deadly to aquatic life and some promotes the rapid growth of algae. This starves the streams of sunlight and oxygen, which can kill their plant and animal life.

The Septic Smart project aims to highlight the need for good management of off-mains sewage systems. It forms part of the Watercress and Winterbournes Landscape Partnership Scheme, which is led by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Wessex Rivers Trust, and is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Neil Richards, Managing Director of CSG, said: “We’re really pleased to collaborate with the Watercress and Winterbournes scheme to raise awareness of this important issue.

“When cesspits, septic tanks and sewage treatment plants are working well then they offer necessary solutions for properties that can’t be connected to the main sewer system. However, if they are badly positioned or ill-maintained, people and wildlife are put at risk.

“In Hampshire, pollution can easily reach the chalk aquifer, affecting drinking water for many years as well as wildlife. It’s a serious issue that people need to be aware of.”

Neil said sewage treatment plants should be serviced to the manufacturer’s instructions, or annually, and septic tanks should be emptied regularly.

“We know of cases anecdotally where people haven’t emptied a septic tank for 20 years,” said Neil. “The need for regular maintenance is not very well understood.”

Neil said to watch out for swampy ground, pools of water, a grey film on the ground and spots of lush grass as signs a leak could be present. Sinks, showers and toilets may also drain slowly.

Kathryn Boler, from Hampshire and Isle of White Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted that CSG are one of the businesses supporting this important project. Our country’s chalk streams are some of its greatest ecological treasures, and off-mains system owners play a crucial role in protecting these precious habitats. Being careful about what you put into your system, and checking regularly for signs of trouble, will reduce the risk of pollution and expensive faults.”