We’ve all seen the video of Longbrook Street with a river of torrential floods racing down it in September. There have been other videos of students trodding through the knee-high flash flood. Cars parked outside resident’s homes were rendered finished as the water enveloped the electrics. Devon County Council has since declared 140 properties flooded across Devon. We can’t forget the “unenviable list” – which is one way that Plymouth District Judge Jo Matson used to describe the 13 counts of unauthorised releases and breaches of environmental permits – by Southwest Water (SWW). Nor the ever-pressing reminders that these are yet another effect of climate change that is striking the nation where students, already in the wake of a cost-of-living crisis, will find themselves hit with another tide.
Yet, two weeks ago, the University partnered with Southwest Water to sponsor the British Science Festival. The festival had themes heavily surrounding climate change and innovation and planned on bringing together industry experts at SWW with University academics to “explore the co-design solutions to the most pressing challenges facing the water and waste sector in the South West, the UK and the world.”
Problems that are – I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention – caused by SWW.
Problems that are – I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention – caused by SWW. Residents faced with these floods have urged for infrastructures to help with the rising water levels. CEO of South West Waters’ parent company, Susan Davey comments about the festival: “The research, development and application of science play a pivotal role in every aspect of what we do as a business and I am very happy that we are teaming up with the British Science Festival to help engage the next generation of scientists through this inspiring event.”
As a cornerstone in Exeter’s community, this collaboration can not be met without scrutiny as Devon residents and the University’s own students, continue to face the brunt of storm overflows, sewage discharges, and unregulated dumpings. Floods are becoming more frequent, students’ living spaces are suffering, and the solution is not found in a greenwashed sponsorship, but in urging the SWW to install new flow monitors for the deluge and improvements of infrastructures.
As a cornerstone in Exeter’s community, this collaboration can not be met without scrutiny as Devon residents and the University’s own students, continue to face the brunt of storm overflows, sewage discharges, and unregulated dumpings.
Especially as the world moves into more climate detriment year after year, we cannot afford to let companies maintain a beefy marketing budget to plaster over the turmoil that erupted less than a year ago.
What the University can afford is to condemn the SWW and its displacement of students and Devon residents; as well as be a part of the solution. I’m positive a £1.6 billion institution could afford a different sponsor for the British Science Festival.