Sewage concern at Bognor beaches after more storm releases by Southern Water

Residents raised concerns about what they thought was raw sewage being washed up along the Bognor Regis coast after Southern Water authorised a number of storm releases at the weekend.

“In my opinion, Southern Water need to be fined £250 million to get their attention, because they clearly don’t care.”

Those were the words of longtime Felpham resident Alex Arthur after concerns were raised about what seemed to be raw sewage washing up on the Bognor Regis beaches at the weekend.

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“I went up to the groyne between Middleton Estate and Summerly Estate. Because of the way the tide comes in, the whole beach is covered in seaweed, but then a little bit further out, I noticed this black sludge.”

Raw sewage on Aldwick beach. Photo by Danny Dawes

Similar ‘sludge’ was also reported on the other side of the beach, with some residents claiming to spot it in Bognor and Aldwick

In a statement about the concerns, Southern Water says the storm releases were ‘99% rainwater’ and only made to protect local homes and businesses from flooding.

“They are screened and generally pass through long sea outfalls a mile or so offshore,” a Southern Water spokesperson said, explaining that they were only authorised after major storms and an amber warning for rainfall from the Met office.

Similar releases also took place at Chichester Harbour and Littlehampton.

One long-time resident worried the releases might affect local tourism during peak season. “Despoiling the beaches will only deter visitors,” they said.

Those sentiments were echoed by local businessman Paul Wells, who said: “I just find it absolutely staggering that, especially at the start of the summer season, here we are pumping overflow into the sea.

“The amount of money we pay to Southern Water, there’s got to be a better solution moving forward.”

The incident comes just weeks after Southern Water was fined £90million for pouring between 16 and 21 billion litres of raw sewage into the North Kent and Hampshire coasts.

The week after the fine, the Chichester Observer reported that Southern Water had spent 90 hours releasing ‘99 per cent rainwater’ into Chichester Harbour in a move which may have affected water quality, according to their website.

Speaking about the most recent releases, the Southern Water spokesperson added that storm releases like these are permitted by the Environment Agency. They urged beach-goers to turn to the company’s beachbouy service for information on whether it is safe to enter the sea. For more, visit