Letter: Contamination of our beach?

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Asda has two choices for disposing of the sewage from its new store in Ferring: it can discharge it into the public sewer or treat it and discharge it into a drainage ditch (West Sussex Gazette, February 15).

If the sewage went into the public sewer, it would be pumped to the treatment plant at Ford. After treatment, it would he pumped through the outfall pipe at Littlehampton and discharged two miles from the coast. It is then unlikely that any trace of the sewage would be found on our beaches.

If the sewage is discharged into a drainage ditch, after treatment, it would make its way down the ditch and then the Ferring Rife to the sea. It would greatly enrich the water of the Rife with the plant nutrients that sewage contains, and so change the nature of the vegetation along the stream. At the sea, the Rife ends with gates that are closed at high tide to prevent sea water entering. The water in the Rife is stored until low tide, when it is released to flow over the beach. The next incoming tide will then pick up the sewage and spread it along the beach.

The present sewerage system, with the long outfall into the sea, was constructed to get sewage away from the beach. The previous system had used a short outfall, extending little beyond low water mark, so that sewage could be washed back onto the beach. Asda wants to adopt an even less adequate system, and discharge sewage little beyond high water mark. Our beaches would again be contaminated with sewage, and the benefits of the expensive sewage treatment system would be nullified.

It is impossible to comprehend the mentality of the Asda executives who have proposed this system. To save a few thousand pounds in charges, they expect us to accept the despoliation of the Ferring Rife and the contamination of the beach. Then they expect us to use their shop. If I were the chief executive of Asda, I would sack the lot of them: the cost of this proposal to Asda in lost sales must greatly exceed the cost of the sewerage fees that might be avoided. The managers of Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose will be rubbing their hands with glee.

David Sawers

Sea View

East Preston