SEWAGE overflowed into rivers and waterways in Tendring on more than 600 occasions last year.

Data from the Environment Agency shows sewage from storm overflows have flowed into water bodies in Tendring 663 times - for the equivalent of 3,915 hours - in 2023.

This is an increase of more than 395 spills compared to the previous year where there were 180 spills in the area spanning 663 hours of overflow.

All of these sewage overflows were from facilities operated by Anglian Water.

The Environment Agency said this rise may be partly due to the country experiencing its sixth-wettest year on record.

The UK had an average of 140.1mm of rain in July 2023, the sixth-highest total for the month since records began in 1836, according to provisional data.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Activity - Anna Baxter swimming in waterActivity - Anna Baxter swimming in water (Image: Anna Baxter)

Anna Baxter, 41, part of the Manningtree Mermaids, said: “The increase in sewage spills is disgraceful and a direct result of years of underinvestment in upgrading our outdated sewage network.

"We have known for years that climate change will increase extreme weather events so using it as an excuse is unacceptable. 

“Our government has failed to properly regulate or even enforce current regulations. It’s time for cross-industry and governmental collaboration to end the practice of sewage dumping once and for all.”

Anglian Water states 70 per cent of the spills occurred in the last three months of 2023.

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

"However, 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 Q4 alone and in stark comparison to the extremely dry year in 2021, as climate change continues to result in more extreme weather events.”

The company said it is working hard to drive down spills and its 2025-2030 business plan includes one billion pounds of investment into storm overflows.