RESIDENTS and business leaders have welcomed Southern Water’s £8million investment into urgently-required upgrades for its East Worthing treatment works.
According to the company, initial work on the scheme had begun last summer, shortly before a serious sewage spillage incident in September that caused concern across the Herald and Gazette area and prompted an Environment Agency investigation.
The failure of the treatment plant’s key filter pumps had led to an emergency measure to prevent flooding properties in East Worthing which saw waste which had not been treated released into the sea.
With results still pending for the investigation, the incident has drawn concern from residents and environmental groups.
However, Southern Water believed its enhanced facilities being completing over the next few months at its Western Road site in Lancing, will safeguard against further incidents.
As part of the works, it has refurbished the site’s screen which filters debris entering the sewers.
It had become over-loaded with non-biodegradable material, including sanitary waste, last September.
The major works upgrade will feature a number of elements including installing additional waste screens and the replacement of all pumps.
It is anticipated that this will enable the facility to cope under the pressure of higher volumes of water during wet weather.
There will also be an improvement programme of its concrete and steel-based treatment inlet, aiming to improve effectiveness of the plant.
The company staged a community engagement meeting last month as a means of offering reassurance on its progress.
John Aamer, Southern Water project manager, welcomed the works.
He said: “I’m really pleased with the progress we are making on site at East Worthing and also with the support we have received both from customers living nearby and from Worthing and Adur councils.
“The preparatory works are now completed and we are moving into the major part of the improvements which, when completed, will reduce the risk of flooding in the area and improve the overall efficiency and robustness of the site.”
While there was optimism from within the company on its improvements, there remained concerns over the schedule of the work, which some believed should have happened sooner.
Councillor Bob Smytherman, who is a member of Goring Residents’ Association, said: “The situation on the pumping station has been bad for a while and it did not surprise us when we heard of the sewage spill.
“We have been putting political pressure on this, with area MEP Catherine Bearder touring the works several weeks ago.”
David Sumner, of the Worthing Society, added his concern on the issue.
He said: “If this much money is being spent on it then it really is urgent.
“I’ve toured this plant many years ago and It’s a pity the work could not have been done before.
“I think it’s appalling what happened last year.”