A water company has been slammed for polluting Sussex seas with “a tsunami of human waste”.

Eastbourne Borough Council said Southern Water, the company providing water and sewage facilities to large swathes of the county, including Eastbourne needs to "urgently improve water quality".

The council criticised the water company for discharging water containing sewage into the sea in Eastbourne for a "staggering" 434 hours last year.

It said many Sussex swimming groups now have to check the water quality before entering the sea.

Eastbourne Borough Council has now passed a motion demanding that Southern Water starts the work needed to improve water quality.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Jim Murray, the council’s water champion.

He said: “It is time to hold Southern Water accountable for this tsunami of human waste polluting our seawater.

 “This volume of waste and the frequency of discharges show that the discharges have become routine, rather than an emergency response to exceptional conditions.

 “We must stop allowing them to profit at our expense and ensure that they improve the infrastructure to stop this happening in the future.”

As part of the motion, the council has called on the government and Southern Water to accelerate the programme to stop the risks of untreated sewage discharges into rivers and seas and to “stop this assault on nature, our economy and our basic human rights”, among other goals.

Councillor Murray added: “I am pleased that the motion was passed unanimously, but a little disappointed that we could not get cross-party support for such an important issue, mindful that it affects all our residents. 

“However, we will keep working together with our partners and I look forward to enabling many changes that will support our local swimming groups and all others who take part in activities in the sea and rivers.”

A spokesman for Southern Water said: “Last week we announced our £1.5 billion Cleaner Rivers & Seas Plan designed to slash storm releases to shellfish beds and bathing waters.

“Already between 2020 and 2025 we’re investing £3 billion. We announced a £16 million improvement scheme at our Eastbourne treatment works in 2019.

“We work closely with our stakeholders and look forward to continuing to work with Eastbourne for the goals we all share – protecting and improving the environment.”