Raw sewage was released into open water in Southend more than 400 times in 2023 - an increase from 120 raw sewage spills in 2022.

New figures from the Environment Agency, detailing the number of raw sewage discharges in Southend, show that the CSO drains - which exist to relieve pressure on the sewage system by releasing untreated sewage into waterways - spilled 427 times in 2023 in the city.

Sewage spills occurred for 1,087 hours during the year.

As a result of sewage spills, water is contaminated, cannot be used for swimming, smells and poses a potential E.Coli risk to anyone using the water.

Earlier this year, Thorpe Bay beach was stripped off its Blue Flag award after traces of E.coli were found during a test in the water. Blue Flag awards are given out to beaches across the UK to recognise clean water.

These sewage spills occur when there is heavy rainfall and drainage systems struggle to cope.

In comparison Clacton faced 198 spills lasting 796.6 hours.

Founder of Southend Swimmers Against Sewage, Shah Haider, said: “This is a further indictment of Anglian Water and how we have a systemic issue in Southend.

“You can see the lack of investment and in fairness, this isn’t just them, but the lack of investment goes back decades, and we are at a point where the infrastructure is now failing.

“It is held together by duct tape and can no longer last, we are seeing the sewage system unravel before our eyes.

“We are at a point now where we have tried managing the situation and we need firm action and intervention by the government.”

The most affected drainage sites were at the Southend Sewage Works, a long sea drainage pipe and the drain on Southend’s Woodgrange drive, which spilt sewage 91 times.

An Anglian Water spokesperson said: “We are disappointed to see our spill numbers have increased this year.

“We are confident that investments we’ve been making to reduce spills have moved the dial in the right direction and spills would have been considerably higher without it.

“It is important to acknowledge the exceptionally wet weather we had late last year, which meant that 70 per cent of our spills were in quarter four alone and in stark comparison to the extremely dry year in 2021, as climate change continues to result in more extreme weather events.”