'Crack team' has kept 4 million tonnes of polluted wastewater out of the sea, Southern Water claims

A ‘crack team’ of Southern Water engineers have stopped millions of litres of pollution reaching Sussex seas and rivers over the last three years, the water company claims.

Southern Water’s Misconnections Team are responsible for hunting down cases where toilets and dishwashers have been wrongly connected to surface water only drains.

Since one toilet alone is enough to dump thousands of litres of waste to the nearest water course, Southern Water bosses believe the team have made a real difference to bathing water quality across the south coast.

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"Last year alone, enough wrong connections were found and fixed to stop 627,000 litres of wastewater ending up in streams or on beaches in the county,” a spokesperson for the water company said.

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Southern Water claims Sussex has been a major focus for the Misconnections Team. Last year, the investigators worked in ten areas, including Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Brighton and Pevensey Bay, identifying more than 100 misconnections.

Although the responsibility to make the change lies with the homeowners, many simply don’t understand there is a problem.

Since the start of the project in 2019, the Misconnections Team have helped prevent more than 4 million litres of pollution caused by wastewater going to the wrong place.

Rob Butson manages The Misconnnections Team and said “technology is the real game changer.

"Until last year, our team used to lift drains and put cages in to find toilet paper or other evidence. Now we have electronic devices which can instantly test for chemicals, proving a misconnected pipe is nearby.”

The new statistics come almost a year after Southern Water was fined a record £90 million for deliberately pouring litres of sewage into the sea, and less than a month after a national day of action for cleaner waters.

Toby Willison, chief environment and sustainability officer for Southern Water, told Sussex World that the water company ‘stands with’ those who took part in the protests, adding: "As part of our commitment to transparency, our Beachbuoy app shows in near real-time, 365 days a year, any release with the potential to affect bathing water.

“We are planning to extend this service by adding water quality data in the future. In addition, next month we will be launching the UK’s first interactive buoy off Hayling Island to monitor water quality in real time.

“Supporting and educating people about the damage that fat, oil and grease, sanitary products, nappies and wet wipes do when disposed of down sinks, toilets and drains is important. Only human waste and paper should be flushed down the toilet to avoid blockages. "

"As part of our commitment to transparency, our Beachbuoy app shows in near real-time, 365 days a year, any release with the potential to affect bathing water.

“We are planning to extend this service by adding water quality data in the future. In addition, next month we will be launching the UK’s first interactive buoy off Hayling Island to monitor water quality in real time.

“Supporting and educating people about the damage that fat, oil and grease, sanitary products, nappies and wet wipes do when disposed of down sinks, toilets and drains is important. Only human waste and paper should be flushed down the toilet to avoid blockages. "

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