A water company will release treated sewage into the environment as part of a £4.5 million eco-friendly project.

Southern Water will use plants to filter wastewater at the new Staplefield Wetland near Haywards Heath which it says will reduce the amount of phosphorous going into nearby watercourses.

The plans will be put before West Sussex County Council ahead of work starting in May, if approved.

It will work by having treated wastewater from the current treatment works in Staplefield feeding the wetland at one end, filtering through and removing effluent at the other. 

The 3.2 acre-large wetland’s creation has included a feasibility study, groundwater risk assessment and environmental planning.

Project Manager Cécile Stanford said: “This is a really important project that will have clear benefits in improving biodiversity and is a natural way of treating wastewater 

"This project will also help educate future generations about the benefit of wetlands.” 

The Argus: Staplefield Wastewater Treatment WorksStaplefield Wastewater Treatment Works (Image: Southern Water)

It is what is known as a nature-based solution and uses water tolerant plants as a filter. They can remove contaminants from wastewater, improve local biodiversity and have the green benefits of absorbing and storing carbon.   

The work, if approved, will be carried out by contractor GTb, which is a joint venture between Galliford Try Environment and Binnies UK Ltd installing new equipment at Cuckfield Wastewater Treatment Works.  

GTb Project Manager Lee McGrattan said: “As a joint venture company we are really excited to be part of this project. This will be the first wetland project we are working on and it will be fantastic to see it flourish in the future. 

"Wetlands are an alternative to more traditional mechanical and electrical process solutions, relying on nature to assist and encourage wildlife to the area.” 

The project forms part of Southern Water's £3b commitment to improve its environmental performance.