Council Gets £1.5m For Water Improvements

Desalination plant to be replaced

The Council has been awarded £1.5m to improve drinking water on St Mary’s and Bryher.

The cash will come from the Government department, Defra, following a study by the Drinking Water Inspectorate and Neville Gardner, Chief Technical Officer from the Council, last summer.

It means the 19-year-old St Mary’s desalination plant can be replaced.

Neville Gardner told the General Purposes meeting that he was mindful of its age and it was still operational because it had been well maintained.

It is costly to run and uses 75kw of energy every hour, 24 hours a day at its busiest period in the summer.

Neville says newer kit may be more efficient and that prompted Richard McCarthy to ask whether wave and wind driven solutions could be used.

Neville doesn’t think those solutions will be appropriate for the next twenty year span but may be a future consideration.

The grant will also pay for the Buzza Reservoir refurbishment and nitrate-monitoring equipment will be added at St. Mary’s. It is likely to be installed at the main reservoir at Telegraph and data will be sent to the main water pumping station.

Neville told the meeting that water monitoring showed that the Council was, “performing well in regard to nitrate levels” and samples sent to the mainland were, “consistently” below the threshold.

More information gleaned by local testing would allow the potential rotation of boreholes in sequence.

Bryher’s supply will be improved as new bore wells, tanks and UV treatment will also be funded.

Marian Bennett said that was a “wonderful investment” and praised the quality of the water on the island. Marian pointed out how complex the system was for a small island.

A further grant of up to £1.5m will be paid out to improve sewerage on St Mary’s and Richard McCarthy joked that this brought “light at the end of the sewerage pipe.”

That grant will also pay for the replacement of the storm drain outfall at the Atlantic Slipway and CCTV surveys of Hugh Town and Old Town sewers .

Some of that funding will provide ‘data gathering’ which Neville hopes will justify the need for more grant money to allow significant improvements to the aged and struggling St Mary’s sewerage system.

Neville feels at least £1.5m more funding will be required once this report highlights the scale of the problem.

But full details of the work that needs doing now is being kept out of the public arena. The Council says the information might influence contractual issues associated with the procurement of equipment or the placement of works.

Councillors were full of praise for Mr Gardner in achieving £3m of grants for water and sewerage work.

Marian Bennett said it was no easy thing to do and the amount of work and expertise required had been “enormous.”

Richard McCarthy added that Neville and the community had shown some patience.

The greatest compliment came from committee chairman, Fred Ticehurst, who said the funding was down to Neville’s, “perception, perseverance and persuasiveness.”