Pool of what looks like sewage in West Wittering could be algal bloom Southern Water says

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A picture of what looks like sewage near Coastguard Lane, in West Wittering, could be nothing more than algal bloom, a Southern Water spokesperson has said.

The picture was taken by West Wittering resident Michelle Spirit, who said she saw the murky water while walking her dog down by the coast, sailing club, on Saturday (April 27).

"I was walking along and I just remember this horrendous smell,” she said. “And what surprised me was that there were so many people using the water. “Juist up the way, there was a couple swimming, and beyond that there were three kids fishing – which I’m not sure you’re allowed to do but they were. That was it really, I just made sure the dog didn’t go in, but I didn’t say anything to anyone because I just thought ‘what is that?’ It was surreal.”

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Ms Spirit believes the source of the smell and the discoloured water is sewage but, although there are a number of outlets near Coastguards Lane, no storm releases were reported from any of them over the weekend.

Southern Water says this pool of discoloured water could be the result of algal bloom.Southern Water says this pool of discoloured water could be the result of algal bloom.
Southern Water says this pool of discoloured water could be the result of algal bloom.

A Southern Water spokesperson also ruled out the possibility of any alternative incidents, suggesting the image might show nothing more than algal bloom.

An Environment Agency article defining algal bloom suggests it is often mistaken for sewage since both give off an unpleasant smell, one often compared to rotten eggs or vegetables. The differentiating factor, according to the EA article, is the presence of foam on the water’s surface or on the beach.

"Algal blooms are a natural part of water ecology,” the article says. “However, it’s when they start to breakdown, that their appearance, and smell, may be mistaken for sewage. Creamy-brown foam can appear on the water’s surface and if near cliffs or headlands, the foam may look like thin layers or lines due to the waves. In exceptional cases the blooms can form thick blankets alongside the shoreline.”

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Whether this incident is algal bloom or not, sewage releases have been a long-running issue in Chichester for some time. Earlier this month, residents living in East Dean were warned that a controlled release of waste water would be poured into the River Lavant in order to protect homes/