Southern Water is rolling out its free water butt scheme to households in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

The utility firm had originally planned to offer the butts in 18 streets in Cowes, but, following discussions with Island MP Bob Seely, it has now agreed to extend the rollout to cover most of the town.

The water butts are put in Island gardens to help prevent sewers from being overwhelmed during and after prolonged rainfall. 

A letter from Island MP Bob Seely will be landing on the doorsteps of thousands of Cowes residents encouraging them to take up the offer.

Read more: Isle of Wight sewage discharge fix will take time says Southern Water

Mr Seely said: “The water butt and installation are free. No Southern Water engineer will ask for money and they will all carry ID.

“It’s important to know that the slow-drain water butts are part of a multi-million-pound scheme that also includes investment in pumping stations, redesigning road drainage and replumbing parts of the system.

"The slow-drain butts are one part of a wider plan to improve the environment."

Last year, Southern Water began trialling the new water butts in Havenstreet. Before the trial, the local storm overflow outfall released up to 30 times a year.

However, following the trial, the water company said it saw a 70 per cent reduction in releases. The company has now installed over 1,500 water butts, each holding 200 litres.

Mr Seely added: “The slow-drain water butts work by storing the excess water until the sewer system can safely take it to water processing plants which reduces the likelihood of sewage spills into our surrounding waters.”

Southern Water said the installation of the water butts in Cowes will take a number of months to complete.

If residents are out when the engineer arrives, they will receive a card through their door advising them what to do.

Southern Water has been targeting areas where it says the water butts will have the biggest impact.

So far this has included Havenstreet, Gurnard, Fishbourne, Wootton, East Cowes and now Cowes.