Sussex storm releases: Adur council demands answers from Southern Water after incidents in Southwick, Lancing and Shoreham

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Councillors are ‘demanding urgent action’ after a number of sewage discharges across the Adur district.

Data from Southern Water’s ‘Beachbuoy’ monitoring website suggests that releases took place in Southwick and Shoreham Beach for more than five and a half hours on Tuesday (August 17).

This came after heavy rain in West Sussex, with sewage also discharged into the sea from outfall pipes at Beach Green at Lancing.

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Al three areas are designated by the government as bathing waters.

Andrew Fozard took this picture at Southwick this weekAndrew Fozard took this picture at Southwick this week
Andrew Fozard took this picture at Southwick this week

“Adur District Council is demanding urgent action from Southern Water after untreated sewage and wastewater was dumped in the sea this week,” a council statement read.

“These bathing waters are publicised for residents and visitors to enjoy, and the Environment Agency has plans in place to monitor and protect water quality there.”

What has Southern Water said about the incidents?

A statement issued by Southern Water explained that Tuesday’s thunder storms brought heavy rain, which ‘fell onto parched ground’ and ‘couldn’t absorb surface run-off’.

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The water company said the rain ‘overwhelmed our network’, adding: “This led to some overflows – which are used to protect homes, schools, businesses and hospitals from flooding – spilling excess water into the sea in parts of West Sussex.

“These discharges are heavily diluted and typically 95 per cent of them are rainwater.

“We are dedicated to significantly reducing storm overflows and are running innovative pilot schemes across the region to reduce the amount of rainfall entering our combined sewers by 2030.”

The water quality at Lancing is rated as good, and at Southwick and Shoreham Beach it is rated as excellent – the highest standard available.

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After the storm releases, The Safer Seas and Rivers Service – run by the charity Surfers Against Sewage – issued pollution alerts for all three locations, warning that they were potentially harmful to water users.

‘It is totally unacceptable’

Adur District Council is ‘demanding an explanation’ from Southern Water as to why pollution was allowed to be discharged into the sea.

It also intends to contact the Environment Agency and ‘wants reassurances’ that Southern Water will ‘prevent similar incidents by investing further in infrastructure and technology’.

Emma Evans, Adur’s cabinet member for environment and leisure, said: “It is totally unacceptable that any sewage should be discharged into the sea in Adur, no matter the weather conditions.

“Residents and visitors should be able to take a dip, get on a paddle board or just paddle without having to check that pollution hasn’t been dumped into the water.

“We will be writing to Southern Water to ask for a meeting as a priority to find out what action the company will be taking to prevent this happening again.”

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