SUSSEX councils have condemned Southern Water after a “shocking” video showed raw sewage being pumped into the sea.
The video, filmed by Martyn Craddock near Splash Point in Seaford, has been described as a “new low” by Councillor Matthew Bird, cabinet member for sustainability at Lewes District Council.
Town clerk for Seaford Adam Chugg said he was “stunned and saddened” to see the footage of the sewage discharge just yards from busy beaches.
It comes after The Argus reported on Tuesday that 13 beaches in the county had pollution warnings in place following heavy rainfall.
A spokesman for environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) said the warnings highlight “the real danger to human health of the chronic under-investment in our water and sanitation infrastructure in favour of £54 billion of dividend payments.”
Southern Water said that dry ground due to recent hot weather causes more surface run-off than usual, which led to overflows.
Cllr Bird said: “To see these sewage discharges into our seas, especially at times when many swimmers are taking to the water, is truly shocking and disheartening.
“Discharges are only supposed to take place after storm events and only because our water infrastructure is not fit for purpose.
“Like hundreds of other residents in the district, I swim regularly at Seaford and it is simply wrong that we should gamble with our health because of a lack of investment by Southern Water.
“Even by the miserably poor standards that Southern Water is infamous for, this is a new low.”
Adam Chugg added: “Seaford Bay is an iconic part of the town and is used regularly by residents and visitors.
“Seaford Town Council do not think it is acceptable to put public health at risk in this way.
“We were pleased to be part of a news report by Channel 4 about the incident, aired on Thursday night to make these points.
“We are also raising this matter with Southern Water.”
A spokeswoman for Southern Water said on Wednesday: “Yesterday’s thunderstorms brought heavy rain which fell onto parched ground and couldn’t absorb surface run-off, meaning that more rain than usual overwhelmed our network.
“This led to some overflows – which are used to protect homes, schools, businesses and hospitals from flooding – spilling excess water into the sea in parts of Sussex, including Seaford.
"These discharges are heavily diluted and typically 95 per cent of them are rainwater.
“We have ambitious targets to significantly reduce storm overflows by 2030 across our region and have set up our Storm Overflow Task Force to pilot innovative and collaborative ideas through Pathfinder projects. What we learn from these projects will help shape our plans for the next investment period.”