River Test, abstraction


Iconic chalk stream faces new abstraction threat

13th September 2019

Just a year after Southern Water were forced to temper their water abstraction ambitions on the lower River Test and commit to major long-term infrastructure investments instead, they have now applied for a drought permit to allow increased abstraction this summer, justified by an alleged ‘exceptional shortage of rain’.

Thanks to the agreement secured at last year’s public inquiry, however, the interim permit (if granted) will not allow abstraction below the Test’s new ‘hands off flow’ limit unless and until a ‘bulk supply’ of replacement water is brought in from neighbouring Portsmouth Water, and a public hosepipe ban has also been introduced.

At a hearing held on 6 August 2019, Fish Legal and members Little River Management argued for much better monitoring and mitigation measures, to protect the lower Test’s fragile salmon and sea trout stocks, where progress under the 2018 agreement has been very limited.

The hearing Inspector report agrees that these key protections now need to be accelerated which will help ensure there is no further slippage in relation to Southern Water’s 10-year ‘interim’ duties under the inquiry agreement.

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