A water company has blamed poor plumbing at private residences for bad water quality at several Sussex beaches.

Although most of the county's beaches achieved an excellent or good rating during the Environment Agency's inspections last year, Bognor Regis (Aldwick) was rated poor, while Bexhill and Eastbourne were rated sufficient.

A Southern Water spokesman said Bognor and Eastbourne have been impacted by misconnections and the company is investigating this being an issue at Bexhill as well.

Misconnections are where properties are incorrectly plumbed into surface drains.

The company is continuing to investigate the reasons behind the "disappointing" results and is investing in improving Eastbourne's wastewater treatment works.

The spokesman said: “We share the disappointment over Aldwick East beach’s ‘poor’ bathing water quality last year.


"Initial findings by the Environment Agency suggest this is likely due to privately misconnected sewers – not storm overflows – so we are working hard to identify where properties are incorrectly plumbed into surface drains, which then release onto the shore.

“Our storm overflow outfall at Bognor is 2.7km out to sea. Until the construction of wastewater treatment works such as Ford in the early 2000s, all of Bognor's sewage was pumped through this outfall untreated. The outfall was designed to allow this without impacting bathing waters.

“We acknowledge that bathing water quality at Eastbourne is not at the standard we, our partners or our customers would like, and we are investigating the reasons behind this.

"Although we are a key custodian of our coastal beaches, there are many partners responsible and many factors that affect water quality.

The Environment Agency rated each Sussex beach's water quality as follows:

  • Felpham – good
  • Bognor Regis East- good
  • West Wittering – excellent
  • Bracklesham Bay – excellent
  • Selsey – excellent
  • Pagham – excellent
  • Bognor Regis (Aldwick) – poor
  • Middleton-on-sea – excellent
  • Littlehampton – good
  • Worthing – good
  • Lancing – excellent
  • Shoreham – excellent
  • Southwick – excellent
  • Hove – excellent
  • Brighton central – good
  • Brighton Kemptown – good
  • Saltdean – excellent
  • Seaford – excellent
  • Birling Gap – excellent 
  • Eastbourne – sufficient
  • Pevensey Bay – good
  • Norman’s Bay  - good
  • Bexhill – sufficient
  • St Leonards - good
  • Hastings Pelham – good
  • Winchelsea – excellent