MORE than 900 fish have been killed after Southern Water released “serious pollution” into a river.

Fish species including eel, brown trout and roach have been found across a 1.2-mile stretch of the River Adur East in north Burgess Hill.

A Southern Water pump failure, which resulted in waste water being released from the Fairplace Hill Pumping Station is being blamed.

Southern Water said the incident was “regrettable” adding that its response had been “prompt”.

The Environment Agency, which was alerted by Southern Water last week after the problem was discovered, described the case as a “serious pollution”.

Jamie Benton, environment manager team leader at the agency, said: “We were alerted to a significant fish kill at the Adur East stream in London Road, Burgess Hill. Our officers attended and discovered over 900 dead fish over a 2km stretch.”

Residents contacted The Argus after spotting men in high-visibility jackets along the waterway, as well as numbers of fish washed up along the banks.

A Southern Water spokesman said: “Our Fairplace Hill Pumping Station released waste water from an emergency outfall for about an hour last Tuesday morning following a pump failure.

“This was a regrettable incident but our attendance was prompt and the site is now working as normal.

“The outfall releases into a watercourse called River Adur East and we immediately informed the Environment Agency, put measures in place to minimise the environmental impact and inspected the stream.

“While doing so, we found a number of dead fish, some of them upstream of the release, which may have been dead for some time.

“We continue to work with the Environment Agency in establishing the cause of the fish kill. Following any spill, where possible we also work with the Environment Agency such that the ecological quality assessment of the watercourse can be improved in the future.”

The Environment Agency has asked anyone with any information about discharges to call them on 03708 506506.