Water firm responds again to claims of waste on beach

WH 010714 Lancing beach. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140107-163313001
WH 010714 Lancing beach. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140107-163313001
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SOUTHERN WATER says releases of ‘outfall’ during heavy rain are screened to remove debris such as wet wipes and sanitary items after residents have claimed to have found ‘sanitary waste’ on Lancing beach.

A petition with 2,000 signatures has been circulating among Lancing residents in the last few months in a bid to ask Southern Water to respond to claims of sanitary waste spotted on the Lancing shore.

In last week’s Herald, resident and main driving force behind the petition, Frances Smith, claimed that Southern Water has been dumping waste from East Worthing and has spread into Lancing waters.

In response, a Southern Water spokesman said: “The strength of feeling shown in this petition demonstrates the importance of beaches and bathing waters to people living and working in the area.

“We are committed to helping look after bathing waters. However, our priority during heavy rain is to protect homes and businesses from flooding - controlled releases of stormwater to sea help do this. A sewer network cannot operate as a closed system and it is normal operation for such sites to have a release mechanism.

“It is important to make clear that these releases are not raw sewage but stormwater, the vast majority of which is rainwater.

“It is also worth noting that the bathing water in Lancing and Worthing – like all the bathing waters in our region – continues to meet strict EU quality standards.”

However, Mrs Smith claimed that when checking for e.coli and enterococci, the Environment Agency may be missing sanitary waste that does not test positive.

The spokesperson continued: “Releases from our outfall in East Worthing are screened to remove debris such as wet wipes and sanitary items. However, if debris on the beach is reported, we immediately send staff to check and clean the coastline and look for faults at the treatment works.”

Lancing residents had also posted on Facebook’s ‘Lancing Regeneration’ page to say that warning signs over the quality of bathing water had been displayed numerous times over the summer.

The spokesperson said: “Despite such necessary releases, bathing water in Lancing and Worthing continues to be measured as high quality. In fact, the 2014 bathing water results, published by Defra last week, gave both bathing waters the highest possible rating.

“Signage placed on the beach following storms in Worthing and Lancing in recent months is part of an Environment Agency initiative to inform the public of any risk of a short-term drop in bathing water quality caused by heavy rain – the signs do not mean the beach is closed.

“Therefore, signage going up does not automatically mean a problem related to Southern Water.”