Water company releases untreated waste water into the sea to prevent widespread flooding

Southern Water’s pumping station in Sea Road, Littlehampton

Southern Water’s pumping station in Sea Road, Littlehampton

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A water company has released untreated waste water into the sea 100m off a Blue Flag beach to prevent widespread flooding.

A fault at Southern Water’s pumping station in Sea Road, Littlehampton, threatened a back up in the town’s sewer system.

To prevent homes and firms flooding and people losing water supplies the company released waste water through an outfall out to sea all day yesterday.

The company was forced to take the action after a sheared bolt in the pumping station’s mechanisms caused it to fail and waste water to back up.

The Environment Agency has launched a full investigation.

Clean water campaigners claim the release of untreated waste could cause ailments ranging from sore throats, eye infections and upset stomachs to hepatitis.

A Southern Water spokesman said waste water would normally be pumped away for treatment.

But to prevent flooding and to “ensure customers can continue to use their toilets, washing machines and showers” untreated water was pumped out to sea.

A temporary pumping station has been set up, bypassing the damaged valve so the treatment works can operate as normal until it is repaired.

A second team was stationed on the beach to clear up any debris washed back to the shore.

He said it was impossible to say how much waste water was released into the sea.

Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, said: “Any discharge of untreated sewage can pose serious health problems to water users.

“The World Health Organisation recommends that water users avoid the area for 24 to 48 hours after a serious pollution incident.

“If this is a technical fault then that is unavoidable. In any industry that can happen.”

Last night an Environment Agency spokesman said: “Our officers are on site to establish the facts and we are working to ensure that the incident is brought to a close as quickly as possible.

“We are also providing water quality results to allow the council to update their public warning information.”

Comments (11)

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12:06pm Thu 28 Aug 14

Nosfaratu says...

So why is the outfall only 100 metres long. The Water Company should know that during extreme rainfall or equipment failures sewerage will get out. If they haven't allowed for this event I would say it was a planning failure.
Do all the pumping stations in Sussex and there are quite a lot near Peacehaven have short outfalls, if so why?

Half a mile should be a minimum !
So why is the outfall only 100 metres long. The Water Company should know that during extreme rainfall or equipment failures sewerage will get out. If they haven't allowed for this event I would say it was a planning failure. Do all the pumping stations in Sussex and there are quite a lot near Peacehaven have short outfalls, if so why? Half a mile should be a minimum ! Nosfaratu
  • Score: 7

12:12pm Thu 28 Aug 14

ok,jared says...

"A water company has released untreated waste water into the sea 100m off a Blue Flag beach to prevent widespread flooding. "

Given that 'm' is the abbreviation for miles in this country, the waste was dumped in the Bay of Biscay.
"A water company has released untreated waste water into the sea 100m off a Blue Flag beach to prevent widespread flooding. " Given that 'm' is the abbreviation for miles in this country, the waste was dumped in the Bay of Biscay. ok,jared
  • Score: -19

12:57pm Thu 28 Aug 14

JimP says...

So if I understand this correctly, the failure of a single bolt left Southern Water with the choice of either discharging an unknown amount of untreated sewage near a tourist beach, or allowing parts of Littlehampton to flood (a situation with which some people in the town with basements are already familiar).

In other areas of engineering an analysis of such single-point failures is performed, and, depending on the severity of the outcome, appropriate measures taken to mitigate the effects. It's called an FMEA (go look it up!) Time for that here maybe?
So if I understand this correctly, the failure of a single bolt left Southern Water with the choice of either discharging an unknown amount of untreated sewage near a tourist beach, or allowing parts of Littlehampton to flood (a situation with which some people in the town with basements are already familiar). In other areas of engineering an analysis of such single-point failures is performed, and, depending on the severity of the outcome, appropriate measures taken to mitigate the effects. It's called an FMEA (go look it up!) Time for that here maybe? JimP
  • Score: 1

2:05pm Thu 28 Aug 14

From beer to uncertainty says...

JimP wrote:
So if I understand this correctly, the failure of a single bolt left Southern Water with the choice of either discharging an unknown amount of untreated sewage near a tourist beach, or allowing parts of Littlehampton to flood (a situation with which some people in the town with basements are already familiar).

In other areas of engineering an analysis of such single-point failures is performed, and, depending on the severity of the outcome, appropriate measures taken to mitigate the effects. It's called an FMEA (go look it up!) Time for that here maybe?
This poor company appears to me to be in a 'no lose' scenario.
Could it possibly be true that any company could dump as much sewage as it needs, or fail to supply electricity, or not run railways at all well etc - simply safe in the knowledge that any fines would eventually be covered by the customer? What an amazing business model. Thanks to privatisation.
Unavoidably dump sewage > make excuse or provide reason > receive report and large fine from regulator etc > put up bills to pay fine > dump sewage > make excuse > receive fine...
[quote][p][bold]JimP[/bold] wrote: So if I understand this correctly, the failure of a single bolt left Southern Water with the choice of either discharging an unknown amount of untreated sewage near a tourist beach, or allowing parts of Littlehampton to flood (a situation with which some people in the town with basements are already familiar). In other areas of engineering an analysis of such single-point failures is performed, and, depending on the severity of the outcome, appropriate measures taken to mitigate the effects. It's called an FMEA (go look it up!) Time for that here maybe?[/p][/quote]This poor company appears to me to be in a 'no lose' scenario. Could it possibly be true that any company could dump as much sewage as it needs, or fail to supply electricity, or not run railways at all well etc - simply safe in the knowledge that any fines would eventually be covered by the customer? What an amazing business model. Thanks to privatisation. Unavoidably dump sewage > make excuse or provide reason > receive report and large fine from regulator etc > put up bills to pay fine > dump sewage > make excuse > receive fine... From beer to uncertainty
  • Score: 12

4:34pm Thu 28 Aug 14

skylight says...

Two choices 1) dump a load of cr@p in the sea and suffer the resulting wrath. or 2) allow Littlehampton to flood wth sewerage.

I am glad they chose the former option
Two choices 1) dump a load of cr@p in the sea and suffer the resulting wrath. or 2) allow Littlehampton to flood wth sewerage. I am glad they chose the former option skylight
  • Score: 1

5:21pm Thu 28 Aug 14

Goldenwight says...

If Littlehampton WAS flooded with raw sewage, though, would anyone notice?
If Littlehampton WAS flooded with raw sewage, though, would anyone notice? Goldenwight
  • Score: -1

5:23pm Thu 28 Aug 14

jackthekipper says...

its still too easy an optiom for the water companys,they can dump wastewater all night,nobody knows how much.brighton has the massive storm drain for these occasions,i suggest southern water build a similar one in all towns.
we had sewage released into the sea and over the prom at rottingdean recently and then tankers arrived to pump out what went over the stop locks.no mention of that anywhere.but you could surely smell it and still do by the white horse inn
its still too easy an optiom for the water companys,they can dump wastewater all night,nobody knows how much.brighton has the massive storm drain for these occasions,i suggest southern water build a similar one in all towns. we had sewage released into the sea and over the prom at rottingdean recently and then tankers arrived to pump out what went over the stop locks.no mention of that anywhere.but you could surely smell it and still do by the white horse inn jackthekipper
  • Score: 3

6:30pm Thu 28 Aug 14

David523 says...

And how much was Argus paid to write a headline that doesnt even reveal the basic facts of the story, to try burying it?

Headline leaves out basic facts. The name of the water company.

The area the waste was released. The headline says it was into 'the sea'.
Great spin. Like describing Fukushima as 'a building that fell down'. Somewhere 'on land'.

How it happened. The story states that it was the corporation's fault due to a 'sheared bolt'. The headline says it was a kind deed to 'avoid flooding'.

All absolutely shameless corporate spin, and very typical of The Argus corruption.
And how much was Argus paid to write a headline that doesnt even reveal the basic facts of the story, to try burying it? Headline leaves out basic facts. The name of the water company. The area the waste was released. The headline says it was into 'the sea'. Great spin. Like describing Fukushima as 'a building that fell down'. Somewhere 'on land'. How it happened. The story states that it was the corporation's fault due to a 'sheared bolt'. The headline says it was a kind deed to 'avoid flooding'. All absolutely shameless corporate spin, and very typical of The Argus corruption. David523
  • Score: 6

1:15am Fri 29 Aug 14

Zeta Function says...

They need to find ways to produce energy from the organic waste.

It's daft flushing the stuff down a drain.

Build a recycling plant and employ bacteria!
They need to find ways to produce energy from the organic waste. It's daft flushing the stuff down a drain. Build a recycling plant and employ bacteria! Zeta Function
  • Score: 2

2:27am Fri 29 Aug 14

twonk says...

Hardly a week goes by without a pollution story about Southern Water. Of course if they get fined they put up there charges to recoup it.
Hardly a week goes by without a pollution story about Southern Water. Of course if they get fined they put up there charges to recoup it. twonk
  • Score: 1

11:43am Fri 29 Aug 14

redwing says...

skylight wrote:
Two choices 1) dump a load of cr@p in the sea and suffer the resulting wrath. or 2) allow Littlehampton to flood wth sewerage.

I am glad they chose the former option
Except these companies make hefty profits, have put their charges up way above inflation/wage rises (being effective monopolies) and are still failing to invest properly in their systems that have equipment failures. They'd rather shell out on paltry fines for polution. And water companies are often good at tax avoidance too.
[quote][p][bold]skylight[/bold] wrote: Two choices 1) dump a load of cr@p in the sea and suffer the resulting wrath. or 2) allow Littlehampton to flood wth sewerage. I am glad they chose the former option[/p][/quote]Except these companies make hefty profits, have put their charges up way above inflation/wage rises (being effective monopolies) and are still failing to invest properly in their systems that have equipment failures. They'd rather shell out on paltry fines for polution. And water companies are often good at tax avoidance too. redwing
  • Score: 0
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