A letter from Island MP Bob Seely is landing on the doorsteps of thousands of Cowes residents encouraging them to take up the offer of a free slow-drain water butt from Southern Water to help with the environment.
The water company had originally planned to offer the butts in eighteen streets in Cowes, but, following discussions with Island MP Bob Seely, has now agreed to extend the rollout to cover most of the town.
Mr Seely said: “When I’ve been out delivering letters, residents have been telling me they are keen to have these installed.
“So, I asked Southern Water to expand the rollout to include more homes in Cowes and I am pleased they agreed. The more people that take up the offer of a slow-drain water butt, the greater the impact will be.”
Over the past few months, the water company has been installing the slow-drain water butts in Island gardens in a move to help prevent sewers from being overwhelmed during and after prolonged rainfall.
Bob said: “The water butt and installation are free. No Southern Water engineer will ask for money and they will all carry ID.
“It’s important to know that the slow-drain water butts are part of a multi-million-pound scheme that also includes investment in pumping stations, redesigning road drainage and replumbing parts of the system. The slow-drain butts are one part of a wider plan to improve the environment.
The change is being driven due to the Conservative Government’s Environment Act and because the Island will be an example of national best practice.
In the letter, Mr Seely said: "As your Member of Parliament, I persuaded Southern Water to make the Isle of Wight an example of national best practice – this means prioritising the Island for funding and for new projects.
"Over £30 million – with more in the pipeline – has been committed, including: £13.5 million for Sandown Water Works, £2.5 million for Knighton, £5 million for Carisbrooke and £7 million for Cowes, Newport and Brading.
"By improving pumping stations, redesigning road drainage, replumbing parts of the system and providing slow-release butts, we are improving the water system and protecting the environment. Community schemes are an important part of this plan. Initial evidence suggests that they work.”
Last year, Southern Water began trialling the new water butts in Havenstreet. Before the trial, the local storm overflow outfall released up to 30 times a year. However, following the trial, the water company said it saw a 70% reduction in releases. The company has now installed over 1500 water butts, each holding 200 litres.
Mr Seely added: “There is evidence to show that this scheme is having a positive effect. We know that our sewers can become overwhelmed during heavy rainfall and that this is made worse by rainwater runoff from hard surfaces like roofs, roads and driveways.
“The slow-drain water butts work by storing the excess water until the sewer system can safely take it to water processing plants which reduces the likelihood of sewage spills into our surrounding waters.”
Southern Water say the installation of the water butts in Cowes will take a number of months to complete. If residents are out when the engineer arrives, they will receive a card through their door advising them of what to do.
Southern Water has been targeting areas where it says the water butts will have the biggest impact which so far has included Havenstreet, Gurnard, Fishbourne, Wootton, East Cowes and now Cowes.
Mr Seely said: “As a swimmer, I want to see cleaner rivers, beaches and seas. According to the Environment Agency, all of our 15 monitored beaches on the Island are rated good or excellent. But there is always more to do. We know that water firms need to raise their game. On the Island we have one of Britain’s best schemes to do just that. The water butts are a practical way of us all helping. The more of us that say yes, the better.”