Lancing sewage leak: Southern Water and residents in rainfall responsibility dispute

Lancing residents have been told that it is their responsibility to manage a water sewer, designed to take rainfall away from the area.

Repairs works have been completed on a burst main in West Beach after a sewage leak just three days before Christmas — the fourth in three months on the same residential estate.

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Southern Water said it was committed to preventing this wastewater main ‘from causing further issues in the future’, adding: “While there isn’t a quick or easy solution, we will be replacing the main in full next year.”

Southern Water said the issue of ongoing surface water flooding in the estate is 'separate to the flooding caused by the burst sewer'. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

However, following further complaints from residents about the water system, the company said it was the residents of West Beach, ‘who are responsible for the cleaning and any investigation of the private drainage system’.

An email sent to Geoff Patmore, the vice-chairman of the West Beach Residents’ Association, added that the sewage busts have not damaged any land drainage or rain water run off systems through being blocked.

Engineers were instructed to ‘determine any connection’ from the defective soakaway gulleys to the land drain in the road.

“It was confirmed that no pipes or connections were found in this excavation and no signs of pipework heading toward a localised drain were noted,” the email read.

Martin Oakley, Nigel Sweet, Adrienne Lowe and Carolyn Oakley are fed up with the repeated sewage leaks. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

However, Mr Patmore said the storm sewers and soakaway lateral pipes on the ‘public highway’ West Beach have been ‘cut through’ and ‘need to be restored’.

He added: “They [Southern Water] are responsible for the damage to the pipes.

“This damage causes flooding all along Orient and Westway.”

In response, Southern Water said the issue of ongoing surface water flooding in the estate is 'separate to the flooding caused by the burst sewer'.

Engineers were instructed to ‘determine any connection’ from the defective soakaway gulleys to the land drain in the road. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

A spokesperson added: “This estate has a separate, private, surface water sewer (it is not combined with the waste sewer) which is designed to take rainfall away from the area to soakaways. Southern Water does not have responsibility for this sewer.”

On the sewage leak repair works, the spokesperson said: “We continue to liaise closely with residents in the West Beach Estate, Lancing, regarding the final repairs to the open excavations sites, final clean-up and compensation.

“The burst that occurred on December 22 was repaired by the evening of the December 23 however, we have committed to monitoring the site 24/7 until reinstatement work is complete to keep an eye on the 1.7km of pipeline which has been affected.”

Southern Water said that, this week, the three excavation sites started to be filled and damaged kerb stones replaced.

Repairs works have been completed on a burst main in West Beach after a sewage leak just three days before Christmas — the fourth in three months on the same residential estate. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

“We will undertake a final clean-up and ensure the area is left as it was before the burst occurred,” the spokesperson said.

At the end of December, East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton arranged a meeting with the Chief Executive of Southern Water, as well as local councillors and senior officers.

He said this ‘sewage summit’ was primarily to challenge Southern Water about recent sewage spills locally and to ‘hear updates on what they are doing about it’.

He added: “I am very conscious of what a disgusting mess this has caused and the extreme inconvenience to residents it is causing.”

Mr Loughton also addressed the concerns over the ‘all too familiar’ infrastructure problems on the former Hasler Estate.

“Southern Water is only responsible for part of the pipe network,” he said. “I gather largely for the pressurised pipes, and I have asked for a full assessment of what their responsibility and liabilities are.”

Tankers were brought in after each sewage leak in Lancing. Photo: Eddie Mitchell