The national regulator for the water and sewage industry has pledged to work with authorities to “hold Southern Water to account over its failures”.

Frustrated councils called for action to be taken after sewage was released for 11 hours off the coast of Southwick and Worthing last month.

Representatives from Ofwat and more than 24 local authorities including Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council hope to “apply enough pressure to force the company to address its list of local failings”.

At a recent meeting with Southern Water, members said the water company had failed to deliver promised upgrades and took too long to respond to issues.

The Argus: Southern Water came under fire following a pollution incident last monthSouthern Water came under fire following a pollution incident last month (Image: Google Earth)

Councillor Steve Neocleous, Adur’s cabinet member for regeneration and strategic planning, said: “We still have our concerns over Southern Water and its attitude towards protecting our coastal waters and rivers, not only for the benefit of our residents but the ecosystems and wildlife that rely on these spaces being clean.

“In addition to this, we also have concerns about the ability of the existing infrastructure to cope with the cumulative effect of new development. We are looking for Southern Water to provide more reassurance on this.

“I hope we can continue making progress as a collective through the meetings.”

Last month, The Argus revealed bathing water quality for beaches across Sussex.


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Aldwick in Bognor was given a zero-star poor rating for the second year in a row which means people are advised not to swim in the area due to the presence of bacteria found in human faeces detected in the water.

The group recently called on Steve Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to improve funding for the Environment Agency needed to help enforcement against water companies.

Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “It was fantastic that  Ofwat took our concerns on board.

“Ailing infrastructure, excessive rainfall and poorly maintained natural waterways need the collective, efficient participation from all stakeholders to deliver the improvements needed locally and regionally.”

Southern Water was approached for comment.