Fears Ferring woman caught infection from polluted sea

AS bathers were told it is now safe to swim in the sea again in the wake of a sewage leak, a grandmother fears contaminated water caused her daughter to contract a serious bacterial infection.

Caroline Sharp said she feared she would lose her daughter Lara Wilson after she was admitted to A and E at Worthing Hospital with cellulitis last Saturday morning (September 8).

Prior to that, Lara, 45, of Upper West Drive, Ferring, had been for a paddle in the sea on Thursday, September 5, having not heard about Southern Water having to dump millions of litres of raw sewage into the water at East Worthing.

Caroline, 70, of Nutley Crescent, Goring, said: “It’s just too much of a coincidence for there not to be a link.

“I thought I would lose her, because it was such a virulent infection, and I’m angry because they had no right to do that to her.

“It’s the 21st century, and I would expect there to be adequate warning signs, but there weren’t.

“Lara doesn’t watch much TV and hadn’t heard about what happened. When she realised, she was horrified, because her 10-year-old son Rowan had been swimming, too.”

Southern Water blamed a blocked pump at its waste water treatment works for it having to dump 40 million litres of untreated sewage into the water over a two-day period from September 2-4.

It made the waters potentially-dangerous to bathers, and while the firm in conjunction with Worthing council did put up signs and red flags on the beach, many people criticised that the warnings were not enough.

The advice not to swim remained in place until Friday, when the council released a statement saying water samples taken by the Environment Agency had not failed water quality tests, and so it was safe to swim again.

Leader of the council Paul Yallop said at the time: “We are grateful to the public for their co-operation during this operation and we wish everyone a great weekend in the sunshine.”

A spokeswoman for Southern Water said: “At the earliest opportunity, Adur and Worthing councils, as beach manager, raised the red ‘no swimming’ flag and put up over 250 notices over 10 miles of beaches.

“We will be carrying out a full investigation, which will look into how we can better support the councils in its duties.

“The councils were very proactive in using its websites and social media throughout the incident, and regular updates were given to the media by all agencies involved.

“Public communications will be looked into as part of our investigation.”