Southern Water responds as yet more sewage ends up along West Sussex coast

In the past 24 hours, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) have ended up in five locations along the coast of West Sussex. Here's what the company responsible had to say.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:29 pm
Updated Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:30 pm

Excess rain water is released into the sea, with permission from the Environment Agency, to prevent flooding.

In the past 24 hours sewage has ended up at one site in Pagham, three sites in Bognor Regis and one site in Littlehampton sparking anger from residents.

Chichester Harbour: Southern Water fined £90m for untreated sewage dischargesSouthern Water has insisted that it is the 'most transparent company' on environmental disclosure and that it had pledged £2billion investment between 2020 and 2025.

Prinsted Harbour. Pic S Robards

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “Across the country sewer systems were built connected to surface water drains in order to protect homes from flooding.

"In heavy or intense rain the Environment Agency permits wastewater companies to release this rainfall in order to protect homes, schools and businesses from flooding and ensure customers can use their toilets, showers and washing machines as normal.

Southern Water: Five-day release into Chichester Harbour is ‘99 per cent rain water’"As a service to recreational water users such as kayakers or windsurfers we provide a near real-time Beachbuoy service which alerts them to when this storm water has filled storm tanks and – after screening – is being released through long sea outfalls around two miles out to sea. Some 98 per cent of our outfalls are now covered with sensors and telemetry.

"As wastewater providers catch up with our industry-leading monitoring, public awareness of storm releases is growing and there are increasing calls for the highly regulated practice to end.

"We support these calls and have adopted a pioneering approach. While simply separating all sewers from surface drains would be a hugely expensive and disruptive process, we believe that a partnership approach is the best way forward.

Southern Water unveils multimillion-pound package of investment to improve Chichester and Langstone harbours"Regulation on sustainable drainage must be changed so rainwater separation is built in to all new construction. Investment in natural capital such as enhanced and expanded wetlands will be key.

"Our partnership with stakeholders such as Natural England, the EA and Chichester District Council is leading the way in this.

"Our first priority must always be to serve our customers but protecting the environment is key to this – as well as a massively important boost to coastal economies.

"Between 2020 and 2025 we are investing almost £2 billion on wastewater services and environmental protection.

"The challenge is immense. Climate change means we are seeing more and more intense rainstorms while population growth and development eats into greenfields which previously acted as soak-aways for storm water.

"By way of illustration while dry weather flows from Portsmouth to our Eastney pumping station are less than 800l/s this regularly jumps to more than 20000l/s within minutes during rain.

Chichester Harbour: Illegal disposal of untreated sewage waste has done ‘incalculable damage’"Huge pumps move excess flow to 40 million litres of storm tank but these regularly fill in less than 40 minutes.

"Concrete and steel alone will not end storm releases but partnership between Southern Water and other wastewater providers and developers, NGOs, regulators and central and local government can reduce the nation’s reliance on the system.”