A NEAR-£3 million investment is being made by Wessex Water to improve two West Somerset wastewater recycling centres.

The sewage treatment work near Stogursey and Nether Stowey aims to protect waterways from the impact of potentially harmful chemicals found in wastewater.

Equipment will be upgraded and new processes installed to ensure wastewater arriving at the centres meets the highest standards when it is treated and released back into the water eco-system. 

Wessex Water wants to ensure chemicals such as phosphorus, ammonia, and nitrogen which are found in many household products are removed from wastewater to reduce their impact on the environment.

High concentrations of the nutrients can cause large growths of algae in watercourses such as streams and rivers, damaging plants and animals in those areas by depleting the amount of oxygen in the water, a process known as eutrophication.

Farm slurries, agricultural fertilisers, and septic tanks can also be regular sources of such nutrients.

Wessex Water project manager Lee Hopson said: “Removing these harmful chemicals from wastewater is an issue constantly being tackled by Wessex Water in Somerset and that is reflected in our massive investment being made throughout the county.

“As our population continues to increase, so too, does the challenge of addressing the impact these nutrients can have on our waterways and we are meeting that head on to make sure the treated water that is returned to the environment is of the highest quality.’

“These projects play a key role in that mission, protecting many of the watercourses throughout Somerset including, in this case, Stogursey Brook.’’

The projects continues extensive work already being carried out across Somerset, including more than £12 million on improving treatment methods and boosting storage capacity in Milverton and Bishops Lydeard this winter.

Nearly £40 million has been invested in similar schemes across the county.

Wessex Water has proposed a commitment of more than £900 million in its recently-published business plan toward stripping out nutrients from wastewater as part of around £3.5 billion of new investment between 2025 and 2030, more than double the current five-yearly spend.

The business plan will be considered by the industry regulator Ofwat before an announcement later in 2024.

Earlier in 2023, Wessex Water boosted the quality of water supplies in the area around Stogursey with a £600,000 replacement of more than 4,300 feet of decaying water main feeding the village and surrounding area, with a further phase to replace a similar length of main currently being planned.