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CSOs - Can't live with them, can't live without them?

Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) have attracted some attention recently and there are estimated to be between 20,000 and 30,000 CSOs across the UK. But do we have to accept this is how it is?

Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) are essential features of older combined sewer systems, mainly constructed before 1970, when it was common practice for foul sewage and surface water to be collected in the same pipe. During periods of intense or prolonged rainfall the system can become overwhelmed, so CSOs serve to prevent homes from being flooded by discharging, legally, into watercourses and eventually the sea.

All CSOs, not just those in Devon and Cornwall, have to comply with strict European legislation and are regulated by the Environment Agency through discharge permits which prescribe the conditions under which they can operate. All of our discharges have these permits.

The need for action

The community have called for immediate action to be taken to stop the discharge of foul and storm water via CSOs. The ultimate solution is whereby surface water run off is completely seperated from the sewerage network leaving the sewers for sewage.

As you can image this solution has a number of factors that will impact everyone and the environment we live in, such as:

  • The cost of seperation is estimated to be in the £Billions, which in turn could double customer bills
  • Everyhousehold would have to seperate their surface water from their foul water draininage, and foot the bill to do so.
  • Disruption to local communities, transport routes and habitats to lay down the new surface water drainage newtork

South West Water realise that doubling customer bills isn't the answer so we are already looking at alternitive methods to help reduce and delay the impact of storm water on the sewearge network such as Sustainable Drainage sollutions such as the WaterShed Truro project.  But we can't do this alone and need your help. 

So we would like you to have your say and let us know your thoughts on how we can ease the impact and reduce the need for CSO usage both in the shorterm and also think of longerterm solutions? 

Read more: pdficon.gif icon Bathing water in the South West (954kb)

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