THE scale of work needed to ensure Jersey’s sewage system can cope as thousands of new homes are built is starting to emerge, with the Housing Minister acknowledging that ‘millions will need to be invested’ amid warnings of a potential ‘catastrophic failure’.
Recent government reports – including draft planning guidance published by Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf – have shown that several sites rezoned for development under the Bridging Island Plan would require additional sewerage facilities, including ‘mini caverns’ across the parishes. (See full story on page 4 of today’s JEP)
The JEP was recently invited to visit the Cavern, which acts as an overflow reservoir to stop sewage flowing into the sea when heavy rain means that the main sewerage system cannot handle the sheer volume of water.
Speaking during a tour of the huge underground facility, head of liquid waste management Duncan Berry confirmed that investment was needed to upgrade the Island’s drainage infrastructure.
‘With the Bridging Island Plan, development over the next four years is going to be all over the Island and the network cannot take that capacity,’ he explained.
‘We are developing a Bridging Liquid Waste Strategy to go alongside the Bridging Island Plan, which is going to request tens of millions in additional funding to try and build mini caverns around the Island that will just take foul sewage to try and take some of those peak flows.’
He added: ‘We would love everyone to be connected to the foul-sewer system but we do have pinch points and it is hard to upgrade the whole system in one go. Unfortunately it does need significant funding to allow the Island to keep growing in population.’
A spotlight was shone on the scale of the challenge earlier this year when plans to build 179 affordable homes were put on hold after it emerged that the drains in the area could not handle the extra demand.
The government’s Bridging Liquid Waste Strategy report, published earlier this month, revealed that infrastructure projects to avoid the ‘potentially catastrophic’ failure of the network if it was overloaded were expected to cost more than £34m over the next four years.
Housing Minister David Warr said: ‘We 100% recognise that millions of pounds will need to be invested in drainage to ensure that we can continue with our build programme. The commitment to resolve that problem is a high priority within government.’