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News Centre > Thursday 17 December 2020

Guernsey Water helps protect our environment

Millenium Walk 4

Guernsey Water continues to play an important role in protecting the Island's natural environment. The utility's latest annual report shows that significant investment has been made within the Island's wastewater network but further work, including important efforts to raise public awareness, is still required to help people understand how they can help reduce blockages that can cause sewer flooding and pollution.

Guernsey Water launched a wastewater education campaign to try to change customer behaviour that increases the risk of blockages that can cause flooding and pollution. The utility dealt with 74 pump blockages in 2019 compared to 65 in 2018 and also cleaned 38,167 metres of sewer.

Flood protection measures were installed at five properties to protect them from the risk of internal foul water flooding and 542 metres of sewer was successfully rehabilitated using 'no dig' pipe lining techniques which avoids excavation and minimises disruption to road users.

Improvements at Harbour St Sampson (HSS) pumping station continued during the year. The £2 million investment was the final part of a £5 million programme of improvement to St. Sampson's wastewater catchment, which will reduce the risk of sewer flooding and pollution from sewer overflows. Coastal modelling has shown that this will help protect bathing water quality at Bordeaux.

Jon Holt, Guernsey Water's operations manager, said, "As a guardian of our water from source to sea, protecting our environment is very important to Guernsey Water. To protect the marine environment we removed 81 tonnes of material from the Island's wastewater using screens at Belle Greve Wastewater Centre. This consists mainly of unflushable plastic items such as wet wipes and we continue to communicate with our customers to advise against putting wipes and fats into the sewer network.

"We have made significant progress in our efforts towards rehabilitating and improving the Island's wastewater network in recent years. This side of Guernsey Water is often overlooked but the network itself is an essential part of the Island's infrastructure. Collecting used water from over 26,000 customers and returning it safely to the environment, whether that be through direct connection to the main drain or via our cesspit emptying service requires the infrastructure to be operating at its full capability.

"New homes and businesses, climate change and the use of household wipes is putting our network of sewers under increasing strain, so it is more important than ever to invest in the future of this infrastructure. But we can't tackle all of these challenges on our own, which is why we will be doing more to help Islanders understand the importance of our wastewater network, what keeps it flowing and what should and shouldn't be flushed or disposed of down the drain."

In addition to ensuring the safe return of the island's wastewater to the environment, Guernsey Water has also changed the way that its sites are managed, to encourage biodiversity. By working with members of its biodiversity and recreation partnership, Guernsey Water has implemented biodiversity action plans for six of its operational sites. The plans have changed cutting regimes and supported native tree planting in appropriate areas to help alleviate the decline of unimproved grassland and support the island's flora and fauna. The use of herbicides has also ceased, aside from the control of invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed.

Guernsey Water also continued its support of the refill campaign in 2019, which continued to expand. This joint initiative with Guernsey Waste and Plastic Free Guernsey targets a reduction in single use plastic bottles by encouraging islanders to refill their own reusable bottles. In addition to further uptake by many kiosks, cafes, pubs and restaurants; Guernsey Water provided water for several events, including the Pink Ladies Walk, Saffrey Rotary Walk, Sure Big Screen event and the BWCI Guernsey Mini Soccer Festival.

Steve Langlois, Guernsey Water's managing director, said, "We always look for ways to help protect our environment, but with our work on biodiversity we are also keen to try and enhance it. We also recognise the value of access to the environment, through recreational assets like the millennium walk, which brings health and wellbeing benefits to everyone that uses it. With this in mind we have been developing plans to enable access for those who may find it difficult at the moment. I'm really looking forward to seeing these plans come to fruition."

View the full report here: 

pdf icon Annual Report 2019 [12Mb]

Responsibility to our customers and the environment

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