31 Mar 2023
Graphic representation of sewage spills around the Lewes constituency. "Southern Water discharged raw sewage into the rivers and seas around Lewes constituency 735 times in 2021. That's the equivalent of 6,060 hours of discharges. Source: The Rivers Trust."   The map shows twenty four outlets spilling sewage, twenty into rivers and four directly into the sea. The largest is South Street Ditchling with 43 spills over 225 hours into a tributary of the Herrings Stream.

At Lewes, the Ham Lane pumping station released sewage into the Ouse 146 times last year, lasting a total of 2,419 hours. The Lewes figures represent the second highest number of spills in the entire Southern Water area, accounting for 16% of all of the water company’s sewage discharges by duration.

Sewage was released into Newhaven, by Seaford Bay 86 times, for nearly 500 hours. Ditchling saw over 1,200 hours of sewage released into the Bevern stream with 81 spills.

The Environment Agency data, released today (31 March), has revealed raw sewage was spilled into English rivers by water companies 824 times a day last year – despite the fact there was barely any rainfall and most of the country was in drought.

The government allows water companies to discharge raw sewage into rivers, lakes and coastlines following a storm. This includes sewage being pumped into bathing water areas and wildlife habitats. Liberal Democrats in Parliament recently uncovered that water companies breached their sewage permits over 500 times last year, double compared to the previous year.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Lewes, Cllr James MacCleary, has called for a ban on these sewage discharges in protected waters, as well as a ban on water company executives being paid multi-million pound bonuses.

Cllr MacCleary said: “These figures are a damning verdict on the government’s failure to stop Southern Water from dumping sewage into our waterways.

“Local people are furious that our favourite swimming places and precious wildlife habitats have become poisoned with raw sewage. The Conservative government just doesn't seem to care. I think it’s time the environment secretary resigned and was replaced with somebody who actually cares about our rivers and seas.

“It is time Maria Caulfield’s government got tough with Southern Water. They are raking in massive profits, all whilst destroying the environment. Frankly, the whole thing stinks.”

The figures come a month after the Co-Operative Alliance-led Lewes District Council passed a rights of river motion, aiming to make the Ouse the first river in England to be granted protective legal rights.

Cllr MacCleary said: “I will continue my campaign to save the Ouse and Seaford Bay from these sewage discharges. I know local communities across the area are demanding action.”

The relevant data is available here:

Attached is a picture of James MacCleary for reuse

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