A Southern Water boss has said that the company will spend £1 billion to storm defences to stop residents being left without water after the “rainiest 18 months in 100 years”.

In November of 2023, 18,000 New Forest residents were left without water for three days after Storm Ciaran caused the River Test to burst its banks.

Due to the flooding’s negative effect on water quality, this prompted Southern Water to cut off the water supply to homes across Waterside, Totton and parts of the New Forest

Southern Water’s Chief Customer Officer, Katy Taylor, has told the Echo what steps the company has taken to stop this from happening again.

She said: “Many customers have never had these problems until now as we are seeing an unprecedented amount of wet weather and rainfall.

“It has been the wettest 18 months in 100 years, and we have really felt the impact of that.”

The Southern Water boss said that the company had faced the most challenging 18 months in years.

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Katy continued: “We are investing one billion over the next five years in storm overflows – which are emergency outlets for when we have heavy rainfall and storms.

“That one billion will be used to assess at each of those storm overflows and work out what we can do to reduce the number of times they spill over in heavy rain.”

 “The ground is sodden and with so much surface water, it is that causing huge issues for individual customers at their homes and businesses.

“We are putting billions behind adapting the challenges that come from extreme weather and the change in the climate."

The chief customer officer said that the company is also changing its operations after being fined £90m in 2021 for dumping billions of litres of raw sewage into the sea between 2010 and 2015.

She added: “Southern Water has changed the way it operates since the fine that was related to what happened in 2015.

“This includes addition capacity and upgrades in our water treatment works – ensuring the water that is released into our area is as clean as possible."