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Give your views on Southern Water’s Clean Rivers and Seas Plan

23rd November 2023

CPRE Sussex – alongside many others – has been highly critical, over many years, of the pollution of our rivers and seas – including by our water companies themselves. The dumping of untreated sewage, during ‘storm overflows’ (and also in ‘dry spills’, when there hasn’t been any recent rainfall), has been a local and national disgrace.

Now Southern Water is consulting on a new plan, which it says aims to improve the company’s environmental and operational performance.

This initial plan seeks to ensure that all its storm overflows meet the government’s Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan targets.

The company explains that the plan will be delivered over the next 25 years – a timeframe calculated to reflect the investment needed, speed of delivery and balance the impact on customer bills.

As part of its planning process, Southern Water has been testing a mix of engineering and nature-based solutions to tackle storm overflows. These include schemes like rain gardens, wetlands, tree planting projects, and rain harvesting devices like water butts – all to slow down or stop rainwater flowing into sewers.

It has yet to be established whether the proposed plan and the methods being tested  would result in any significant reductions. What is certainly essential is the need for joined-up planning to match development with the capacity of sewage treatment works to treat resulting additional foul water and storm outflows.

Southern Water has submitted its plan to Defra but before the plan is finalised, the company is also seeking views from local residents on how to build a sustainable water future.

You can give feedback on whether the plan is going at the right speed and focusing on the right areas by checking the interactive map at:  and offering your feedback.