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Plans for reservoir at Broad Oak. Again.

Plans for a huge reservoir at Broad Oak have resurfaced in a new scheme by South East Water to flood hundreds of acres of farmland and countryside.

A previous proposal for a mile-and-a-half-long lake through the valley met with huge opposition. But now the company’s new Water Management Plan proposes building one half the size. Bosses claim the reservoir will be needed in the longer term because a “critical stage” has been reached when it comes to keeping the district’s taps flowing in the future.

The previous plan had been for a reservoir at Broad Oak with a capacity of 27 million litres of water a day, but the latest scheme is for 13.5 million litres. Much of the land and property in the valley which would be affected has already been reserved or compulsory purchased by the company.

The firm, which supplies about 73,000 homes in the Canterbury district, also wants to build a desalination plant at Reculver – to turn sea water into drinking water – but the exact location has not been revealed. SEW assett director Paul Seeley said:

“We’re operating in the driest region of the country, and yet will see more people and more homes over the next 25 years. Our plan shows we will need up to an extra 145 million litres a day of water by 2040 to meet that demand.

We’re proposing a range of options that make what water we already have go further – such as reducing leakage, but on their own, they will not be enough to meet the shortfall. So we are also proposing to share water with other water companies through longer, larger, pipelines; recycle treated wastewater for later use as drinking water, and build a new reservoir in Kent. Combined, they would deliver an extra 167 million litres of water a day just enough to meet that predicted shortfall, and give us a little bit of flexibility.”

A public inquiry into the company’s water management plan in 2010, which investigated the need and proposed options, was approved by an inspector. But the reservoir would require a separate planning application, which has not yet been submitted, and would probably go to a public inquiry. Even if approved in the future, it would not be built until 2030.

Hackington Parish Council chairman Ray Evison said:

“A reservoir in Broad Oak was first actually pro posed as far back as 1948 and in the 1970’s the company said there was still a dire need for it, but we have managed without it so far. The company gave a recent presentation to the parish council and it appears the reduced scale means it would hardly affect our parish. But we would consider a formal response if a planning application was ever forthcoming.”

HAVE YOUR SAY

The proposals are outlined in the company’s newly-published Water Resources Management Plan, which can be viewed at www.southeastwater.co.uk/yourwateryoursay and the company will also be holding drop-in information sessions in the communities affected early next month to give residents further chance to comment on the plan.

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