A water company dumped sewage into waterways a “staggering” 16,000 times, figures for 2022 show.

Sewage was released from Saltdean 45 times last year, lasting a total of 107 hours, while at Shoreham there were 30 spills counted, which lasted 91 hours.

The Ham Lane outflow on the River Ouse at Lewes had 146 discharges last year, lasting more than 2,400 hours.

Following the release of the Environment Agency figures, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Lewes James MacCleary is calling on a ban on these sewage discharges.

The Argus: James MacCleary by the Cuckmere Valley at AlfristonJames MacCleary by the Cuckmere Valley at Alfriston (Image: Lewes Liberal Democrats)

Southern Water admitted that, despite figures for sewage overflows decreasing, it still “isn’t good enough”.

Mr MacCleary said: “These figures are a damning verdict on the government’s failure to stop Southern Water from dumping sewage into our waterways.

“Local people are furious that our favourite swimming places and precious wildlife habitats have become poisoned with raw sewage. The Conservative government just doesn't seem to care. I think it’s time the Environment Secretary resigned and was replaced with somebody who actually cares about our rivers and seas.

“I will continue my campaign to save the Ouse and Seaford Bay from these sewage discharges. I know local communities across the area are demanding action.”


Untreated sewage was released into Newhaven, near Seaford Bay, 86 times for a total of nearly 500 hours. Ditchling had more than 1,200 hours of sewage released into the Bevern stream with 81 spills.

Bexhill had 96 spills which lasted for almost 1,090 hours in total.

Billingshurst had 45 spills lasting for 581 hours.

Chichester had more than 1,200 hours of storm releases from more than 80 spills.

East Worthing had 35 spills lasting for more than 430 hours.

Fishbourne had 45 spills lasting more than 260 hours.

Arundel had 75 spills lasting more than 280 hours.

Foxhill in Haywards Heath had 47 spills lasting more than 700 hours.

At Eastbourne, one of three sewage outfall pipes had 62 releases lasting for more than 434 hours.

There were 932 hours of releases from 106 spills in Hailsham.

Toby Willison, Southern Water’s director of environment and quality, said: “This official Environment Agency data for 2022 shows a fall in overall storm overflow activity and we are already exceeding the government’s expectations for spills per overflow. However, we know this still isn’t good enough and are working extremely hard to drive down storm overflows. 

“Following the success of small-scale, innovative nature-based and engineering solutions which slow the flow of surface water into our sewer system, we are now looking to roll these out more widely over the next two years.  

The Argus: Shoreham seafrontShoreham seafront

“Larger construction projects have also made a big difference, including a new 11km sewer pipe in Brighton, which along with two associated pumping stations and a wastewater treatment works, ensures that the 95 million litres of wastewater from Brighton and the surrounding areas is fully treated. 

“Our digital monitors now cover 98.5 per cent of our outfalls, and will hit 100 per cent by this time next year. We will continue to report our progress in a transparent and open way.”