Local authorities continue to put pressure on Southern Water

Released: Wednesday, 08 November 2023

We're calling for the government to hand more resources to the Environment Agency to take action against Southern Water.

We've joined more than 20 local authorities from across the south east in writing to Therese Coffey, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as part of their campaign to hold the water company responsible for pollution and infrastructure failures.

Our group of local authorities, called the Southern Water Stakeholder Group, met last week with representatives from the Environment Agency, the regulator for water quality and the ecological health of rivers and coastal waters and which manages the risk of flooding.

Simon Moody, the Environment Agency's area director for Solent and South Downs, told the group the organisation is holding water companies, including Southern Water, to account to reduce pollution, tackle storm overflows and invest more of their profits into the environment.

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

In Worthing, monitoring water quality is a key focus. Identifying and eliminating all sources of pollution locally supports the national demand to see a halt of combined sewer overflow discharges into the sea, impacting human health and threatening marine ecosystems.

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

Last week's meeting follows action by both Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council to demand the water company prevent pollution damaging the shoreline.

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.

In Worthing, we've submitted applications for two new bathing water designations last week to Defra. The first is opposite Beach House Grounds and the second at Goring Gap. If successful, these areas will join the existing stretch off Heene Road to receive regular testing for bacteria by the Environment Agency. This will help identify the sources of bacterial pollution, holding those responsible to account.

Cllr Steve Neocleous, Adur's cabinet member for regeneration and strategic planning, said:

“Working with our colleagues in councils across the south coast, we've joined forces with other representatives who are fed up with this water company calling the shots on our coastline. We hope that, by working together, we can really start to put some pressure on Southern Water.

“In Adur, as our housing stock grows to meet local need, it's clear that we in turn need a responsible water provider who will provide suitable, adequate infrastructure.”

Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing's cabinet member for the environment, said:

“The Southern Water Stakeholder Group of local authorities is united to ensure Southern Water prioritise improvements across the region.

“In Worthing we meet regularly with Southern Water to follow up their ongoing misconnections work. This is crucial to identify potential sources of sewage contamination into the surface drainage system which we know is an historic and ongoing problem. The issue of storm overflows requires significant action to help reduce excess water overwhelming the local sewage system. It is more important than ever for Southern Water to invest in sewage infrastructure and local projects with the council to tackle this issue.”

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


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Page last updated: 17 June 2024

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