Recent analysis has shown the scale of Southern Water’s failure to stop raw sewage from being discarded into local rivers and ultimately into Rye Bay. The data is taken from 2019, which led to Southern Water being fined £126 million for ‘deliberately misreporting its performance’, and has been collected by the Rivers Trust under the campaign, Is My River Fit To Play In?
A search of their interactive map reveals shocking results. Six locations in Rye saw a discharge from the sewerage network into local rivers in 2019. The worst offender was Southern Waters’ outflow at St Margarets Terrace in the Rock Channel area. In 2019, this storm overflow spilled 102 times for a total of 585 hours into the River Tillingham.
The location of the next worst site was the storm overflow at Rye Cricket Salts which spilled 31 times for a total of 115 hours into the River Rother.
Other raw sewage spills were reported at:
- Monkbretton Bridge – storm overflow spilled 21 times for a total of 25 hours into the River Rother;
- Winchelsea Road – storm overflow spilled 18 times for a total of 144 hours into the River Tillingham;
- Wish Street – storm overflow spilled 5 times for a total of 4 hours into the River Tillingham;
- Fishmarket Road – storm overflow spilled once for a total of one hour into the River Rother.
The River Trust’s advice is to avoid entering the water immediately downstream of these discharges, especially after it has been raining. The rivers Tillingham and Rother enter Rye Bay, after only a short distance, between the beaches of Camber Sands and Winchelsea Beach.
‘Using rivers for swimming, paddling, fishing and playing is fantastically rewarding and good for our health, but like all outdoor sports, carries an element of risk.’ the Rivers Trust said.
‘There is no public health monitoring of river water quality in the UK, so this map will help river users weigh up the risk before taking to the water. It shows some of the sources of pathogens (bacteria or viruses) in rivers which can cause illnesses. We are calling on all river users to join us in tackling these issues.’
More information on the Rivers Trust and their work can be found here.
Pollution Spotters needed
In a separate move, Southern Water has been posting up signs on paths around Rye to recruit ‘Pollution Spotters’. The company is asking walkers to contact them if you notice ‘discolouration, strange odours or debris in rivers or streams’; ‘overflowing manholes or water flowing from the ground’; or ‘dead fish or wildlife in distress’.
The number to call is 0330 303 0368 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .