Southern Water’s misconnections project, launched to improve the quality of bathing waters, has identified more than 300 misconnections, including over 50 toilets.

The project involves the water company engaging with customers to help trace property misconnections.

Wastewater pipes which are incorrectly plumbed result in flows from toilets, kitchens and bathrooms running out to sea without treatment.

The project, launched in the autumn, forms part of the company’s £31.5 million Bathing Water Enhancement Programme, which aims to bring bathing water quality in seven areas up to the “excellent” standard by 2020.

The areas are Deal, Leysdown, Minster (Kent), Shanklin (Isle of Wight), Middleton, Selsey and Worthing (Sussex).

Brian Rousell, programme manager at Southern Water, said: “The South East’s bathing waters are already among the cleanest in the UK – of the 83 bathing waters in our region, 53 are of excellent quality.

“We’re now working in seven areas to help them reach that top standard by 2020 and stay there. Sources of pollution vary in each area, but misconnections are a common contributor. “Rectifying them is normally a simple process but can make a real difference, which is why this part of the project is so key.”

Rousell added: “The majority of customers have been very supportive and are keen to put things right, where it is their responsibility, once they learn their wastewater could be going onto their local beach.

“We’re also working closely with the local authorities’ environmental health teams, who have the enforcement power in many cases, and we’ve established a steering group in each area. The councils are enthusiastic about the project and want to be involved.

“This support is proving invaluable. While it’s early days for the project, we’re pleased with the results coming through and are confident we’ll meet our target of getting all misconnections rectified by the start of the 2019 bathing water season.”

The misconnection surveys are being carried out on Southern Water’s behalf by MWH and surveying experts WERM.

In November last year, bathing water quality statistics revealed England’s favourite swimming spots had maintained high standards following record results in 2016.