SEWAGE flowing into the River Itchen is an "environmental disaster", a resident has said.

A resident, who lives in Alresford,  spotted a smelly leak spewing into the river on Saturday, December 31 at Brambridge near Otterbourne.

However, he said this is not the first time because sewage can be seen spewing into the River Itchen every time it rains heavily.

The Itchen rises to the south of New Alresford and flows 26 miles to meet Southampton Water below the Itchen Bridge.

The man said: "Raw sewage is coming up through a manhole cover in the middle of the road outside Brambridge Garden Centre and from there it is flowing straight down into the River Itchen.

"This happens frequently whenever we have very heavy rain and it is not an irregular occurrence. 

"It has been reported to the environmental agency and they are in contact with Southern Water."

He branded the leak as a "disaster".

He added: "It is an environmental disaster to be honest, not least of all because the River Itchen is a chalk stream. there are only 200 chalk streams or thereabout in the world, of which 85 per cent are in England, and quite a number of those are in Hampshire with the Test and the Itchen being two of the iconic ones.

"To see this happening to an iconic chalk stream, renowned for its crystal clear waters is horrendous."

On top of this, the resident has said the leak "stinks".

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: "Following reports this week about flooding from a manhole in Brambridge, we took immediate action by carrying out checks at the site and at nearby Kiln Road Pumping Station. The issue was fixed as quickly as possible.

"We are aware of longer-term problems at Brambridge, especially during heavy rain, which is why we're planning to deliver a new scheme to allow a greater volume of flows and reduce flooding and pollution events.

"We are very sorry for any inconvenience and upset caused."

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "We are aware that over the Christmas period there were a number of sewer overflow discharges at Bambridge and our investigations into this matter continue.

"Our monitoring of the River Itchen is also ongoing to assess whether the watercourse was adversely impacted by these discharges.

"Members of the public are encouraged to report pollution incidents to us via our 24 hour freephone emergency hotline on 0800 807 060."