Arun to send ‘strong and united message’ to Southern Water on storm and wastewater discharges
Arun councillors have agreed to send a ‘strong and united message’ to Southern Water and its majority stakeholder Macquarie Asset Management.
The water company was fined £90 million after pleading guilty to illegal sewage discharges in rivers and coastal waters across Kent, Hampshire and Sussex between 2010 and 2015.
Whilst water companies can discharge sewage legally into waterways under certain circumstances, Southern Water was found to have done so illegally.
Arun residents are concerned about storm and wastewater discharges and the potential impact on bathing water quality.
During a meeting of Arun District Council’s environment and neighbourhood services committee on Thursday (September 23), members resolved to write to the water company.
Council leader Shaun Gunner (Con, Rustington East) said both the council’s Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are ‘united in our anger against Southern Water’s crimes’.
He said: “Southern Water, who are benefiting from significant profits, are doing this knowingly without the consent of residents, without the consent of businesses, or any consent from this council or town or parish councils.
“As the leader of the council I am angry and I want to see Southern Water answer for it and tell us what they’re going to do to stop this.
“We must send a strong and united message.”
The local authority will ask Southern Water to give a reason for any storm and wastewater discharges in Arun as well as seeking a timescale from the company for infrastructure improvements to reduce discharges.
ADC is also seeking reassurance from Southern Water that sewerage and other infrastructure will be able to accommodate future demand – especially as the need for housing increases.
It is also asking the company to extend its multi-million pound Bathing Water Enhancement Programme – which aims to reduce the impact of waste water on bathing spots – to more areas across the district.
The council also wants to be notified when a sewage overflow occurs so it can inform the public of when to avoid bathing spots.
Council officers said that a round table discussion with Southern Water could be beneficial.
The letter will also include points made in Dr James Walsh’s (LDem, Beach) motion.
It will ask Southern Water to cease illegal discharges, separate rainwater drainage from sewage, and accommodate all new housing with a main sewer connection.
Dr Walsh said: “There is great concern that Southern Water has again been fined a substantial sum of money.
“The time has come to take some strong action, hopefully with other local authorities in the area.
“A lot of our sewage infrastructure is at breaking point and we need to get them [Southern Water] to accommodate all the proposed new housebuilding with sewage connections.”
Steve Goodheart (Arun Ind, Hotham) questioned if a letter was the ‘strongest method’ the council could use.
He said: “These guys have committed crimes all along the south coast and all we’re doing is sending a letter.”
Committee chair David Edwards (Con, Felpham East) said that the water company had already faced justice for its crimes and said the council would ‘escalate’ if it did not receive a response to its letter.
“We won’t be fobbed off – we want answers,” he said.
Southern Water has been approached for comment.