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January 29 2013.

Rotary Club of Seaford report:

Southern Water's wastewater treatment plant at Peacehaven has had a long gestation period, going through a number of planning processes with different authorities. The end product, visited on 22 January by eleven members of the Rotary Club of Seaford, is a remarkable piece of civil and constructional engineering, which sits unobtrusively and almost invisibly in the rolling South Downs behind the town.

From its huge grass covered roof to the gleaming pipes and miles of cables, it embodies the most up-to-date designs and wastewater system management.

Arriving in bleak, near freezing weather we were warmly greeted and shown into a meeting room where our delightful guide showed us a video which described the site from its origins to the present state, as well as the processes which the wastewater goes through. The project is the largest attempted to date by Southern Water and encompasses pumping stations in Brighton and at points along the A259, which join the old Victorian sewer system in Brighton to the new plant and then to the long-fall sea outlet.
The plant is placed in a man-made hollow in the Downs, with parts of it extending deep into the chalk. Currently it is in the process of being tested prior to the final handover, but it is working as it will do when fully commissioned. The pumps, filters, bacterial degraders and dryers are fully automated and managed from the control room. The water reaching the sea is cleaned to current EU standards. Suitable solid waste product is bacterially cleaned, dried and turned into industrial soil improver and unsuitable material is separated and sent for disposal at designated sites. All this is achieved with the minimum of human intervention.
Our thanks go not only to our helpful and knowledgeable guides on the day, but also to all those involved in the planning and construction of the site which has managed to combine an unpleasant necessity with imaginative design to produce an environmentally friendly complex. So friendly in fact that an eagle has had to be employed to keep the seagulls and rooks off the grass roof!

Congratulations all round. We had a very enjoyable and enlightening experience.