Sewage discharge suspected in Littlehampton after 'disgusting mess' spotted - but 'no evidence of pollution'

The Environment Agency has reassured residents that suspected sewage pollution on Littlehampton beach is the ‘breakdown of algal blooms’.

Littlehampton was affected by sewage discharge from a sewer overflow at 7.55am on Tuesday (April 30), according to the Safer Seas and Rivers Service.

A ‘sewage discharge’ and ‘pollution incident’ alert read: “There has been a sewage discharge from a combined sewer overflow impacting this location within the past 48 hours. Bathing is not advised due to likelihood of reduced water quality.”

Beach-goers then took to social media to report a concerning discovery.

Alongside a number of photos seeming to show the result of a sewage discharge, a Facebook post read: "Does anyone know what this disgusting mess is on the beach and in the marina?!"

Kym Kovary, from Lancing, took photos of the water at 1pm on Tuesday.

She said: “I go to Littlehampton several times a week – walking the dog with my partner. It is absolutely beautiful on Littlehampton when the tide goes out. You’d think you’re in a foreign country, it’s gorgeous.

“Seeing sewage is an absolute disgrace. People are saying there’s foam but that was mixed in with sewage and that’s absolutely disgusting.

"Our dog became quite ill after her ball went into the muck. It’s too much of a coincidence. It was putrid and I found it alarming.

“Who would want to bring kids to the beach? It will affect tourism. People will spend their money elsewhere.”

As a result of the complaints, Southern Water’s environmental team attended the site and took samples on Thursday (May 2).

A spokesperson said: “The results have returned negative in terms of pollution. The team have also said that cannot see signs of algae and some local residents have said that this time of year they do see some natural discolouration of the watercourse.”

The water company confirmed there was a Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) release from Sea Road, but ‘modelling’ showed this was ‘not impacting on bathing water’.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We believe the suspected sewage pollution on Littlehampton beach is the breakdown of Algal blooms.

“It’s easy to mistake algae for sewage, particularly as both have an unpleasant smell, but foam on the water’s surface or on the beach is most likely to be the result of an algal bloom breaking down.

“If you suspect a pollution incident, please contact our 24-hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

The Environment Agency have not issued any advice to bathers / local authority for Littlehampton during this period.

The UK Government Agency said algal bloom is a naturally occurring and benign phenomena caused by algae which grows in the warmer weather and then dies off giving of a ‘rotting eggs’ smell as part of the natural decomposition process. More information can be found here.”

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