Pet owner faces £350 vet bill for Jack Russell who swam near untreated sewage in Sussex

Pet owner tells how she had to pay a £350 vet bill to save her ailing Jack Russell ‘after she fell ill while swimming in the sea near where untreated sewage was pumped in water”

  • Rachel Hoath, 52, said her dog swallowed “a lot of water” while swimming
  • The Jack Russell needed antibiotics and blood tests after being sick
  • Bexhill beach was closed after untreated sewage was pumped into the sea
  • One of a southern water treatment plant closed five miles of coastline on August 17

A pet owner had to pay a £350 vet bill to save his ailing Jack Russell after he fell ill while swimming in the sea ‘near where untreated sewage was pumped out’ in East Sussex last week.

Rachel Hoath, 52, said her dog swallowed “lots” of seawater, making her sick and requiring antibiotics and blood tests, while swimming on the beach near the De La Warr Pavilion on the Bexhill seafront.

It follows a number of sewage spills in the area, including from a Southern Water Treatment Plant on August 17 that shut down a five-mile stretch of shore.

Ms Hoath, who has a craft shop at De La Warr Pavilion on Bexhill seafront, said: ‘It’s disgusting, absolutely awful. One of the rescuers came in on Monday and got very sick.

Rachel Hoath, 52, faced a £350 vet bill after her dog swam in the sea near untreated sewage on a beach in Bexhill, East Sussex, last week.

“I don’t really understand how this can happen. I mean, in the middle of August, for people who come here on vacation to not be able to go to the sea, people will stay away from the beach. It’s awful and it’s revolting.

She added that her 15-year-old dog is “doing better”.

East Sussex beaches, including Bexhill and Normans Bay, have been closed after untreated sewage was pumped into the sea by water companies – with all beaches between Brighton and Hastings polluted.

Southern Water experienced a ‘significant’ electrical problem at a pumping station in Galley Hill which resulted in untreated sewage spilling into the sea.

A man sits on the beach next to where murky brown water can be seen at Bexhill-on-sea as raw sewage is pumped into the sea along the East Sussex coast

A man sits on the beach next to where murky brown water can be seen at Bexhill-on-sea as raw sewage is pumped into the sea along the East Sussex coast

The water was released when the station’s main power and backup system failed on Wednesday.

Video posted to Twitter shows the untreated cloudy gray liquid rapidly pouring from a hose on the beach directly into the sea.

So far this summer holidaymakers have been warned to avoid 50 beaches across England and Wales as the sea has become polluted with sewage.

The most concentrated areas were on the south coast.

Water companies are allowed to discharge wastewater into rivers and seas to prevent sewage treatment plants from being overwhelmed during periods of heavy rain.

Ms Hoath added that the beach closure and recent landfills have affected her business because people have stayed away or chosen other places to visit.

Bexhill and Normans Bay beaches were closed after Southern Water experienced a 'significant' electrical problem at a Galley Hill pumping station, which resulted in untreated sewage spilling into the sea. Pictured : the De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill

Bexhill and Normans Bay beaches were closed after Southern Water experienced a ‘significant’ electrical problem at a Galley Hill pumping station, which resulted in untreated sewage spilling into the sea. Pictured : the De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill

She also said business had been affected by recent railway strikes which meant that “August is not going so well”.

Others along the seafront felt similar frustration and disgust. Janet Charlton, 79, said the spills were “disgusting” and “worrying”, while Hannah Trimmer, 20, said she would think twice before swimming.

Southern Water said in a statement: ‘We are very sorry to say that a significant power supply problem at one of our sewage pumping stations has caused a discharge into the sea at Bexhill.

“We are liaising closely with the Environment Agency and Rother District Council and providing information to assess the potential impact of this event.”

Rother District Council responded and advised people not to enter the water between Galley Hill and Normans Bay.

Bexhill Beach has now reopened after closing on August 17.

What are the current laws on water companies discharging sewage into rivers and the sea?

Britain’s sewage system, which is still largely Victorian, becomes unable to cope when there is too much rainwater, resulting in sewage treatment plants overflowing.

It is under these circumstances that water companies are allowed to discharge rainwater and a smaller amount of untreated sewage directly into rivers and the sea to prevent waste from flowing back into the streets and the houses.

But environmentalists say better infrastructure, like storage tanks at sewage treatment plants, or nature-based solutions like planting trees, could better address the problem, which has grown too large.

Figures show more than 400,000 sewage ‘overflows’ occurred in English waters last year, lasting a total of 3.1 million hours, compared to 293,000 in 2019.

The WWF has suggested that water companies “rely on sewer overflows to compensate for undercapacity”.

Wastewater is normally discharged into the environment after treatment, either at sea through long marine outfalls or coastal discharges, or into rivers.

The proposed amendment to the Government’s Environment Bill had been inserted into legislation by the House of Lords, but MPs voted to delete it.

The amendment sought to clean up rivers by imposing a new obligation on water companies to reduce discharges of raw sewage into rivers.

Sewage drains onto a beach and into the sea at a site next to the North Sea in England

Sewage drains onto a beach and into the sea at a site next to the North Sea in England

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