NEWS that Southern Water will redouble efforts to deal with the chronic flooding and sewage problems at St Mary Bourne has been welcomed by local MP Sir George Young.

Sir George, who has carpeted Southern Water executives over the issue, said: “I welcome this as a first step in rectifying the problems in the village.

“I note they refer to a ‘major’ and ‘long-term’ programme, which may allay fears that Southern Water is aiming at a minimal short-term solution.

“£4 million across the region may not be enough, so I was pleased to say that more funds will be available if needed.”

Southern Water says it is extensively surveying sewers in St Mary Bourne as the first stage of a major programme to help prevent the high water table flooding the sewer system.

Following the result of this investigation, the company will commit further resources to seal sections of the sewers to stop the infiltration of large volumes of groundwater which are overloading the system.

The work is part of a £4 million region-wide response by Southern Water to address groundwater flooding caused by the wettest year on record, which has seen underground water rise to its highest ever level in some areas.

Southern Water will also work with homeowners to seal their own private drains because many causes of infiltration are expected to be from this source.

Mel Karam, Southern Water’s director of asset management, said: “I wish to assure those living in St Mary Bourne that we are committing and will continue to commit the appropriate resources to deal with this problem.

“Most of the time, groundwater infiltrating the sewers is not a problem but, with changing climate and weather patterns, it is causing issues more regularly.

“In light of this we have to do something different and we are now looking at a longer term solution to this problem.”

Now that the groundwater level is dropping, CCTV surveys and jetting of the sewers can commence so that major sources of infiltration can be identified and sealed.

The work has already identified a connection recently made within the catchment which was found to be uncapped – left for future development.

This has allowed a huge amount of groundwater to flood into the main sewer and is now being capped.