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About 30 years ago the local oystermen were concerned that, without improvements to the drainage system in Mersea and other places draining into the Colne and Blackwater, the quality of the water in those rivers would not reach the standard required for oyster cultivation. A lot of time was spent building contacts with Anglian Water and the Environment Agency, while at the same time West Mersea Council exerted pressure to obtain improvements to the bathing water.
These efforts resulted in a new sewage works with very large storage facilities which would, we were told, be adequate to deal with all future requirements. Whilst this was probably a realistic assumption at the time, changes in climate mean that there is at times much heavier rainfall than previously. This, when combined with the fact that the older built-up areas have combined foul and surface water drainage, could lead to CSOs (direct discharge of untreated effluent) which are allowed on a limited basis but would be very detrimental to our activities as oyster growers.
The drainage from an extra 350 houses would put even more pressure on this system and could mean more overflows leading to a requirement for investment in increased facilities. This needs to be addressed with some urgency as investment up to 2020 (AMP 6) is already allocated and plans are being made for the period after 2021 (AMP 7).