Worthing seeks answers after dry spilling claims

Released: Friday, 08 September 2023

Worthing Borough Council’s environment lead has demanded answers from Southern Water following reports the supplier repeatedly spilled sewage into the sea off Sussex.

An investigation by the BBC has suggested that Southern Water discharged sewage off the coast last year on days when it was not raining, known as “dry spilling”.

Dry spilling is banned as it can lead to higher concentration of sewage in waterways, which can damage ecosystems and affect human health. The BBC report suggests there were hundreds of such discharges last year.

Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, has asked for assurances from Southern Water that our town hasn’t been affected by dry spillages and will not be in the future.

Photo: Worthing beach at low tide

Worthing Beach and the pier at low tide

Cllr Wells said:

“It’s hugely concerning to hear that Southern Water has released sewage on dry days.

“From our initial communications with Southern Water, it doesn’t appear that Worthing has been affected by these discharges and our environmental officers are busy seeking confirmation of this.

“We want assurances that dry spills have not occurred locally and confirmation from Southern Water that they are immediately acting on the information provided by the BBC investigation. Residents need confidence that future dry weather won’t result in damaging sewage releases.

“I personally welcome the news that Southern Water volunteered this data to the BBC. This has at least ensured that these dry spills have been identified, but sadly highlights the continued issues of sewage pollution.”

In a move to bring increased protection to Worthing’s coastline, we are currently finalising bathing water applications for two sections of popular shore - one opposite Beach House Grounds and the other opposite Sea Lane in Goring. Community volunteers have been counting the numbers of swimmers enjoying the water at these locations over the summer as part of these applications.

Designated bathing water zones allow the Environment Agency to test the seawater for bacteria annually, which helps to identify sources of pollution - a move which would help hold polluters to account and allow Worthing to achieve the highest bathing water classification.

To assist our applications, we are seeking feedback to help demonstrate these two sections of shore are commonly used by visitors for activities such as swimming and watersports. The form takes no more than one minute to complete and closes on Friday 15th September 2023.

Photos: The stretch of shore opposite Sea Lane in Goring (top photo) and the stretch opposite Beach House Grounds (bottom photo)

PR23-120 - Bathing water zones

(PR23-120)

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Page last updated: 20 February 2024

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