SOUTHERN Water is working to investigate how a large pipe carrying hundreds of litres of raw sewage burst, flooding a popular beach.

The pipe carrying upward of 540 litres per second of sewage burst in July flooding Bulverhythe beach in Hastings and several beach huts.

Specialist repair contractors and Southern Water employees worked to repair the pipe, which was switched back on and allowed to leak again, to prevent flooding elsewhere.

Updating on Hastings Borough Council on the progress of the cleanup, senior representatives of the company said the incident was a "very unusual system failure."

Councillor Kim Forward, leader of the council, said: “This was a productive meeting. The Southern Water Chief Executive apologised for the terrible leak in July and explained that it was a very unusual system failure. Testing is ongoing to reduce the chances of further incidents.

“We will be meeting with Southern Water on an on-going basis to hear the results of the investigations, and so we can make sure that the beach is restored to its former state and that all beach hut owners who were affected are compensated.

"We are also keen to work to build on our relationship with Southern Water so that we can deal with any future incidents as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Council officials also heard more information about the takeover of Southern Water by Macquarie, an Australian investment bank.

Ian McAulay, Chief Executive Officer at Southern Water, said: “We continue to build on our productive relationship with Hastings Council.

"In addition to the work on the clean-up from the summer’s burst at Bulverhythe, Hastings will continue to be a priority for our misconnections team which has already prevented hundreds of thousands of litres of sewage entering surface drains and directly impacting the environment.

"With fresh investment from our new majority shareholder, our investment plans across the region are being both widened and accelerated and we will ensure the benefits are felt by customers and the environment.”