MP Caroline Ansell has gone 75ft underground on a visit to the town’s subterranean waste treatment works – the building colloquially known as poo castle.

The MP organised the tour for members of Eastbourne Swimmers to receive a briefing from Southern Water on the plans ahead and to see first-hand  operations that process wastewater from around 120,000 local homes each day.

They saw the storm station, biological or ‘bug’ treatment area and first stage filter site which separates out grit and grease at the site on Prince William Parade.

The visit comes as Caroline continues to work to see water quality improvements in Eastbourne.

“This was an informative visit, if very smelly in the initial stage and I won’t forget seeing the flow from 1000 flushing toilets in a hurry.  The scale of the undertaking is very clear to see, perhaps most visibly in the enormous skip filling with used wet wipes and any manner of items people mistakenly flush. Another unforgettable sight,” said Caroline.

“The reality is that treating sewage is quite a modern intervention. This site only opened in 1997 but it will need to be replaced.  In the short to medium term, some of the investment we learnt about on the visit will prolong its life. 

“While there, it was also good to see new on-site generators which can provide full back up in the event of a power outage, something which has previously caused treatment issues.    

“Challenging questions were asked and answered on the visit, and I welcome Southern Water’s Turnaround Plan and the focused work specifically for Eastbourne.

“There is important work ahead but no quick or cheap solutions. And it bears repeating: if we stopped the use of storm overflows immediately, sewage would back up into our homes, our gardens, schools and hospitals during heavy rain. Anyone who suggests we should do this either doesn’t understand or is wilfully misleading you.

“The sea is our greatest asset and like so many others, it’s what I love about living here. I am committed to the pursuit of excellent seawater quality.

“My next planned visit will be on site with Southern Water’s misconnections team.”