DOG OWNERS have been urged to stop messing up Middleton’s sea water.
The first campaign of its kind in the coastal south-east region saw those who take their four-legged pets for walks urged to bag and bin their mess.
Southern Water joined forces with Arun District Council to launch their joint initiative on Wednesday.
A grant from the water company as part of its £1.2m investment has enabled the council to fund more enforcement patrols to issue on-the-spot fines to owners who allow their dogs to foul its beaches, parks and open spaces. The money is also paying for more signage, more dog poo bins and an advertising campaign to drive the message home.
Southern Water chose Middleton as one of seven priority areas to benefit from its bathing water enhancement programme. Joel Hufford, its stakeholder engagement manager for Sussex, said:
“This is the first launch I have been to in this programme where dog fouling has been the focus.
“There’s a lot of evidence bathing water quality can be affected by dog’s mess. If dog owners don’t pick it up, even if they leave it in the gutter, that can be washed out on to the beach by the surface water management system.”
“We want to get our bathing waters up to excellent standard and, if they are excellent, to keep them there.
“There are many factors which affect the water’s quality. Some of it is down to us and, where that is the case, we will invest to make sure our infrastructure works more efficiently.
“But, if there is litter, it can attract seagulls and they can dirty in the seawater and that can affect its quality.”
Two of the dog owners at the event were Elmer couple Andy and Brian Deamer, with a Canine Partners’ training dog, Zia.
Mr Deamer said: “It’s a great campaign, if people observe it. We see dog fouling on the pavements and verges near where we live. It is a problem. It’s not nice, especially on fields like Shrubbs Field where children are playing.”
Mrs Deamer said: “There so some people who put the mess in a bag and leave it behind a pillar. They should take it to a bin. It only takes a minute.”
Arun handed out doggy bags with reminders of the campaign and has launched an online video to make people think twice about ignoring their dog’s mess.
Cllr Clive Gammon, the council’s chairman, told those at the launch at the seafront greensward off Sea Way: “The vast majority of dog owners in the district are responsible. But the few are spoiling it for the rest, so we need to get the message across that it is not acceptable to leave your dog’s mess lying around.
Arun’s Middleton councillors, Paul Wotherspoon and Barbara Oakley, both attended the launch.
Southern Water has also investigated other sources of pollution in Middleton and found misconnected properties, damaged sewer pipes and excess water run-off from farmland. It is tackling these.