CIVIC chiefs have said it's 'unlikely' the overflow from their sewage treatment works enters the district's rivers.

Former city councillor Ian Tait asked the question after Winchester City Council finished upgrading two of the council-owned plants near Alresford

Mr Tait also detailed the nitrate and phosphate credits generated by the treatment works. 

The credits are bought by developers to offset the environmental impact of schemes. 

Speaking at cabinet on Wednesday, January 24, Mr Tait, a planning consultant, referenced a report that was presented to the economy and housing policy committee last year. 

He said: “It detailed that the council was in the process of upgrading two of its sewage treatment plants. One in Northington and one in Cheriton. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Ian Tait

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“The works have now been completed and the council has generated 154 nitrate credits and 15.9 credits for phosphates. A kilo of nitrates is worth £3,250. A kilo of phosphates is worth £100,000 if you buy them from The Grange Estate. 

“So the cost of £117,000 to upgrade those two treatment works has generated credits that could be sold for £2m. The HRA has to cover the cost of that work, but the question is could it benefit? 

“I appreciate that the council has to mitigate the nutrient issue through its own development programme, however, if you were to look at the six further priority sites under investigation, the nutrient credits there range from £1.7m to £12m. 

“The mind boggles over what the over 40 or so sites may generate in credits.

“If you're building a £2m three-bed house in Chilbolton Avenue, the nutrient cost is around £35,000 - £40,000 which would be the same if you built a three-bed house in Winnall for a lot less.

“The 48 sewage treatment works the council owns are effectively discharging poor quality, untreated effluent into our rivers. Can the leader assure me and residents of the district that at no time does untreated or partially treated sewage be discharged into our rivers?”

Hampshire Chronicle: *Martin Tod – Liberal Democrats 

Council leader Martin Tod said: “I'm proud of the fact we are the first local authority in England to be pushing ahead with this kind of improvement. We are through with the first two upgrades and with more planned, improving water quality of our rivers. This will help our own housing building plan and it has the potential to allow other developers as well. I'm not aware, with the way our plants are constructed, that any untreated water does enter the system, but it is a fair question. I don't have all the answers, but I'm willing to investigate and find out because I would like to see interventions to avoid that happening. 

“The overflow comes from sewage systems that are differently designed, so I think it's unlikely. 

“The overwhelming priority for us is to make improvements which improve water quality and we are keen to unblock development for other developers.”