Throughout this year I’ll be writing to Islanders to encourage everyone asked to take up Southern Water’s offer of a free slow-release water butt.

So why are Southern Water doing this and what is a slow-release water butt?

Southern Water are distributing the butts to help relieve pressure on our drainage systems.

That pressure is worsened by rainwater run-off from roofs, roads and other impermeable surfaces which enter the sewer system, overwhelm it and sometimes result in sewage flowing into our rivers and seas.

Slow-release water butts hold water until the sewer system can take it.

Why is this happening now?

In 2021, the Conservatives introduced the Environment Act, enforcing much higher standards for environmental protection. As your Member of Parliament, I persuaded Southern Water to make the Isle of Wight an example of national best practice.

By improving pumping stations, replumbing parts of the drainage system, providing slow-drain water butts and redesigning road surfaces, the water system will work better. Please see my website for details of individual projects at

Community schemes are an important part of this plan. Initial evidence suggests that they work.

Southern Water conducted a trial in Havenstreet last year.

Before the trial, Havenstreet pumping station ‘spilt’ – polluted – up to 30 times a year.

Two thirds of eligible residents took up Southern Water’s offer of free water butt installation. The result has been a 70 per cent reduction in spills so far.

Do you need to pay?

The butt and its installation are free. No one knocking on your door for this scheme will ask for money.

Where will the scheme be offered?

So far, it’s been offered in Gurnard. Fishbourne and Wootton will be next, then Freshwater, Yarmouth and East Cowes. After that it will be offered to other parts of the Island.

Our water system isn’t going to improve overnight; agricultural run-off causes a lot of pollution, as just one example, but our plans will mean cleaner rivers and seas.

I am talking with Southern Water regularly to monitor progress.

As a swimmer I hate the idea of polluted waters. We know that water firms need to undergo a sea change.

On the Island we have one of Britain’s best clean-up schemes.

The water butts are a small but important part of that. It is a way of us all playing our part. The more of us that say yes, the better.

If any Islanders want to know more, please email me on