Portsmouth Water Managing Sites for Biodiversity

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Overview:

For Portsmouth Water ecological conservation and promotion of biodiversity are key factors in the construction, operation and maintenance of assets. This is reflected in the company policy to conserve and enhance the natural environment on its land, preserve historic buildings and equipment so far as is consistent with the primary duty of providing a sufficient supply of wholesome water at reasonable cost. 

 

The company owns and operates sites in the valleys of the rivers Itchen, Hamble, Meon, Ems and Lavant, sites in close proximity to the coast, as well as on the chalk hills of the South Downs and Portsdown Hill. It is a statutory requirement that habitats sites which range from local to international importance are maintained for biodiversity.

Yellow Flags at Fishbourne 

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First Bluebell of Spring 2022 near Wickham

Water industry regulations

The water industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries. The three principal regulators are the Office of Water Services (OFWAT - economic regulation), the Environment Agency (environmental regulation) and the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI - regulator of drinking water quality). These three regulators, along with others, act to ensure that monopoly water companies take account of the interests of our customers and the environment.

The Company has a long history of good practice in consultation and development in environmentally sensitive settings. And whilst complying with statutory requirements of regulators or water industry law may directly conflict with Portsmouth Water's ideal biodiversity aspirations, when work is undertaken the Company's policy is to ensure ecological disruption caused by work is minimised. 

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One way in which Portsmouth Water are regulated in terms of our commitment to Biodiversity is through our Grounds Maintenance Outcome Delivery Incentive (ODI) for Priority Habitat sites. To find out more about our ODI press the button below:

Using the Mole technique after a pipe burst in an Ancient Woodland

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Parasol Mushrooms on the roof of a Hampshire reservoir, Autumn 2021

Site Ecological Surveys

In order to better understand the habitats on our sites, which allows us to mitigate environmental impacts of essential work undertaken to protect the water supply and enhance the value of the ODI, Portsmouth Water sites managed on a regular basis have Ecological Surveys undertaken. These include surveys for Watervoles, Otters, Bats, Reptiles, Invertebrates and Badgers as well as Botanical species.

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Newts at Itchen

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Lizard Orchid on reservoir roof

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Botanical Survey near Clanfield

These Surveys are supported by the deployment of our Camera Traps:

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Badger on Portsdown Hill

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Fox at Itchen

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Roe Deer at Itchen

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Lizard Orchid on a Portsmouth Water reservoir roof, June 2019

Habitat Creation and Connectivity on Portsmouth Water land

In addition to managing sites in accordance with the aims of our Biodiversity ODI, Portsmouth water aims to improve the Biodiversity value of company land wherever possible. This has included the planting of native trees, hedgerows, the creation of ponds, converting disused underground reservoirs to Bat caves, restoring chalk grasslands, as well as creation of Bat and Bird resting and breeding places.

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Hedgerow planting on Portsdown Hill, 2017

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Hazel planting & coppicing at Itchen, April 2022

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Hazel planting near Bishops Waltham, April 2022

CASE STUDY: Improvements at Wickham reservoir site, converting low Biodiversity value scrub into high-value indigenous wet grassland habitat 2017:

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Before improvements, August 2017

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Removal of dense scrub, September 2017

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Outcome (same view as before), August 2018