The extent of sewage spills in Suffolk has been revealed in latest Environment Agency data - with dirty water was released into rivers for 300 hours or more in 2023 in some cases.

According to the data, an Anglian Water storm tank near the River Orwell spilled 71 times for a total of 326 hours, while on the same river a storm overflow discharged 80 times for a total of 175 hours.

Meanwhile, at Leiston Beck, a storm overflow spilled 65 times for 102 hours, while on the River Deben at Woodbridge a storm discharge at a pumping station spilled sewage 42 times for 136 hours.

READ MORE: Performic acid was set to be used in River Deben in Suffolk

The data also revealed that the Woodbridge Waste Water Treatment Works, based at Martlesham, which had no spills in 2022, released sewage 11 times in 2023 for a total of 69.9 hours.

Anglian Water said it was making investments to ensure the number of spillages was reduced.

East Anglian Daily Times: The River Deben also saw sewage spillsThe River Deben also saw sewage spills (Image: Archant)

Campaigner Ruth Leach, from action group Save the Deben, spoke of her "disappointment" at the increase in spills into the Deben.

She said: "We are not surprised that these spills are attributed to the rising hydrostatic load caused by the increased rainfall last year, which is a clear warning of the under capacity of the existing sewage system to cope with the high volume of rainfall that is becoming more common.

East Anglian Daily Times: Sewage also spilled into the River OrwellSewage also spilled into the River Orwell (Image: Archant)READ MORE: Suffolk river group's call for action over water quality

"The Victorian sewage pipes are vulnerable to increased volumes of flow from expanding housing development, the loss of porous surfaces in our towns because of non-permeable surfaces being created for parking our cars - and increased rainfall patterns such as the levels measured during Storm Babet last year."

She was also concerned about the discharges at Martlesham Creek, close to the new Martlesham Wilds nature reserve and in an area with some rare wildlife, including a red mollusc.

East Anglian Daily Times: Campaigner Ruth Leach on the River DebenCampaigner Ruth Leach on the River Deben (Image: CHARLOTTE BOND)

"As weather patterns continue to change and winter rainfall increases, we are concerned that these events will become more frequent and, although diluted by rainwater, the untreated discharge is still emptying into Martlesham Creek, adjacent to RSPB Martlesham Wilds and a home to the red-listed mollusc Vertigo Angustior," she said.

READ MORE: Call for more monitoring after 2,000 sewage spills in Suffolk rivers

An Anglian Water spokesperson 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% 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.”

In England as a whole, storm overflows dumped sewage into rivers and seas for 3.6million hours in 2023.