Southern Water says it has been forced to pump sewage into a village pond due to “months of heavy rain”.

But the company says it will spend £1.6 million creating a wetland and relining sewer pipes so it can stop the practice.

The Argus reported on Tuesday that Southern Water is releasing screened and diluted but untreated sewage into East Dean Village Pond and further downstream into the River Lavant at Charlton, both near Chichester.

The chalk rock valley retains large amounts of water which finds its way through cracks in the pipes and into the network, meaning sewage can back up into people’s homes.

Sewage is removed from the pipework and put into nearby waterways, a process known as over-pumping.

The Argus: People watch on a sewage is released into a village pondPeople watch on a sewage is released into a village pond (Image: Adur and Rother Rivers Trust)

Southern Water issued an apology and has now revealed plans to tackle the problem.

“We understand the concerns about over-pumping in Lavant, put in place to cut the risk of flooding into homes and properties,” said a Southern water spokesman.

“The area of Lavant currently has very high levels of groundwater that forces its way our sewers and customers’ pipes.

“In addition to this, the heavy rainfall over recent months has resulted in our network being under significant pressure due to groundwater entering pipes and sewers. 

“We are working on long-term solutions to this issue and have seen some positive results through our project in the pan-parishes of Hampshire, which has a similar geography to Lavant and is a chalk stream.

The Argus: Southern Water is spending £1.6 million to stop the practiceSouthern Water is spending £1.6 million to stop the practice (Image: Adur and Rother Rivers Trust)

“These solutions include relining public sewers and sealing private pipes for customers with an innovative new gel process that seals the pipes.

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“In Lavant, we have plans to invest £1.6 million in this area to tackle this issue through creating a wetland and relining 4km of sewers.”

Work is due to begin in the Lavant Valley next year with completion expected in 2030, however preparation works could begin sooner.

Over-pumping sewage in the Lavant has been taking place for around a decade. The Adur and Rother Rivers Trust says the area is “effectively dead”.