40 local authorities meet to demand action on Southern Water's failings

Released: Thursday, 02 February 2023

Councillors from Adur and Worthing have teamed up with their counterparts from across the region to demand Southern Water clean up its act.

Representatives from more than 40 councils across the South East met to discuss how we could work together to better hold the water company to account over pollution and infrastructure failures.

The meeting was held in response to a series of issues that are affecting communities across the region.

In Worthing, work needs to be done to ensure sewer misconnections and uncertified discharges into the sea don't degrade water quality or threaten marine ecosystems.

Seawater in Adur faces similar threats, along with concerns about how the sewage infrastructure is coping with new developments in the area.

Whilst local authorities don't have the power to directly regulate Southern Water, by working together we hope that we can apply enough pressure to force the company to address its growing list of local failings.

The meeting follows previous action by both Adur and Worthing to demand the water company prevent pollution damaging the shoreline.

In Worthing, we applied for the stretch of sea off Beach House to be designated by the government as bathing water, and we intend to do the same in the west of the town. If the requests are agreed, the Environment Agency would regularly test the seawater quality, putting extra pressure on Southern Water to prevent pollution leaks.

In Adur, we're demanding that the water company invest in its infrastructure to prevent sewage discharges into the sea. The growth of new developments, in particular around Shoreham, is putting extra pressure on a local sewage system that is struggling to cope with demand.

Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing's Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:

"It has never been more important to ensure the quality of our coastal water, and to hold Southern Water to account for its role in uncertified releases of sewage off our foreshore.

“In Worthing we continue to press Southern Water for greater local water monitoring, a resumption of misconnections work and to fund surface water reduction initiatives to help stop these appalling releases into our treasured coastal waters.

“This new group has come together with a united and strong voice to say that enough is enough."

Cllr Steve Neocleous, Adur's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategic Planning, said:

“Southern Water must not only hear us but must act on our concerns.

“All the councils represented at the meeting had similar issues, and we hope that collectively we will be able to bring some pressure to bear on Southern Water.

“In Adur specifically we want Southern Water to pay particular attention to the cumulative effect of developments on the sewage network, rather than looking at individual sites in isolation.”

Beach and sea - crystal clear waters on our beaches

Beach, sea and groyne at low tide (on a sunny day) on the beach looking west

(PR23-011)

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