Local leaders meet to address West Sussex water issues through strategic intervention

Senior leaders have held a summit to discuss water issues including flooding, water quality, sewage outflows, and scarcity at a strategic intervention level.

The summit acknowledged that working groups already exist in district and borough councils as well as community groups through Operation Watershed and other initiatives, which seek to tackle operational issues. The organisations who met at the summit will be operating at a strategic collaboration level to support these working groups.

Leaders from West Sussex County Council, Chichester District Council (who attended to provide a district and borough council perspective), Southern Water, Environment Agency, and Water Resources South East met on Thursday 8 February to discuss the issues and to start developing a strategic plan to deal with them as future challenges. All agreed that urgent action was needed by all parties.

Each organisation in attendance recognised they had responsibility for parts of the water cycle and agreed to work together, pooling their expertise and skills, to develop a joint Water Management Plan for West Sussex.

They identified key areas for early action and collaboration,

  • Implementing sustainable drainage solutions that will also enhance the environment
  • Schemes to help householders to reduce water run-off from roofs
  • Work with existing Catchment Partnerships to deliver solutions that alleviate catchment water pressures and improve biodiversity.

Cllr Paul Marshall, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “This summit was called to address the concerns we know our residents and businesses have in relation to flooding, water quality, sewage outflow, and scarcity. As leaders with responsibility for these areas, we have come together to formulate a way forward on how to jointly deal with them at a strategic level.”

Lawrence Gosden, CEO of Southern Water, said: “With climate change and the need for more housing development to cope with our increasing population, it’s vital that we collaborate as partners to manage water in the region, to minimise the risk of flooding, pollution and water shortages. No single organisation can achieve what’s needed alone. These are challenges that we all share – Southern Water is determined to work with others to face and resolve them together.”

Simon Moody, Environment Agency Area Director, Solent and South Downs, said: “Working in partnership allows us to deliver more for the water environment. By working together, we can develop catchment solutions that address the range of challenges that we face in the water environment. Creating a better place for the communities across West Sussex.”

Cllr Adrian Moss, Leader of Chichester District Council, said: “We know how concerned our residents are about flooding, water quality and sewage and so the formation of this group is a really important step towards helping to tackle these very serious issues.

“By working together and setting clear targets, we believe that collectively, we can make a real difference.”