Figures released by the Environment Agency have revealed the extent to which untreated sewage ends up in Petersfield’s rivers.

The Event Duration Monitoring Storm Overflows 2022 statistics show how many times during the year this pollution happened at each Southern Water location, and the total length of time that sewage was being discharged.

Southern Water is responsible for five sites in the Petersfield area where sewage could potentially leak into the waterways.

Top of the mucky list locally was Liss waste water treatment works, where 47 spills lasting a total of 542.9 hours – 22½ days – were recorded last year. Its sewage goes into the Western Rother upstream of Petersfield, affecting both the River Rother and Batt’s Brook.

Petersfield waste water treatment works also saw 41 spills in 2022 totalling 328.97 hours (nearly 14 days). Its sewage comes out on the Stanbridge Stream, affecting the Criddell Stream.

The combined sewer overflow in Chapel Street, Petersfield, accounted for five spills totalling five hours, polluting the Western Rother.

But no spills were recorded at the combined sewer overflows in Station Road, Liss, or College Street, Petersfield.

Nationally, the Environment Agency figures show water companies released raw sewage into rivers and seas in England for more than 1.75 million hours last year, averaging 825 sewage spills into waterways per day.

This was down 19 per cent on the previous year. But the Environment Agency put the fall largely down to drier weather, not water company action.

While not illegal, academics and environmental groups say releasing sewage poses a danger to human health.

Companies release sewage, including effluent, wet wipes and sanitary products, when there is too much demand on their treatment works during rainy periods. 

This pose a serious risk to wildlife, swimmers and other users of UK waterways.