Bank Holiday Sewage in the South West’s Seas

We could see it coming from many miles away:

Here is August Bank Holiday Friday’s first sewage pollution incident of the long weekend around the long coastline of South West England, courtesy of South West Water’s “Water Fit Live” map:

This one resulted in sewage pollution at Portmellon beach:

After the first pollution incident this afternoon, further alerts came thick and fast. I found myself “live tweeting” one after another! Summarising in the evening, and going anti-clockwise around the coast, we’ll start with the major holiday beach at Woolacombe in North Devon:

According to the “Water Fit Live” section of South West Water’s web site:

Overlooked by the South West Coast Path and edged with sand dunes, the 3-mile sandy beach at Woolacombe has superb views to Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel.

Lifeguards operate on the beach which makes it popular for kayaking, walking, swimming and kitesurfing as well as surfing.

Next comes Harlyn Bay, near Padstow in North Cornwall:

According to South West Water:

Harlyn Bay is a very popular family and surfing beach and is suitable for novice surfers. Harlyn Bay is adjacent to the South West Coast Path.

According to a BBC News article by Brodie Owen earlier this week:

South West Water (SWW) confirmed there were a number of permitted discharges in the area after heavy rainfall…

According to the Safer Seas and Rivers Service, run by the charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) using SWW data, there have been 13 discharges at Harlyn between 18 June and 18 August – one nearly every five days. Eight discharges occurred in July alone, during unseasonable rainfall.

Next in line on our journey along the South West Coast Path we come to Mawgan Porth, described by South West Water as:

A sandy beach sheltered by high cliffs at both ends. It is well served by local village amenities. Mawgan Porth is popular with families and surfers.

Following the coast path around Lands End we pass Portmellon on the south coast and then come to East Looe:

East Looe is a very popular sandy beach adjacent to the town of Looe in East Cornwall.

South-facing, with shallow waters that offer good, safe swimming.

Before crossing the River Tamar we come next to Seaton:

Seaton Beach is located at the foot of the wooded Hessenford valley on what is a relatively quiet stretch of the Cornish coast. The River Seaton meanders across the beach here and acts as a focal point for children who can safely play here. The water here is generally safe to swim in and the beach is quite sheltered from both waves and the wind by the high cliffs to the west.

Finally, for the moment at least, across the border in Devon we reach Plymouth Hoe East:

Plymouth Hoe East is a developed promenade area just below Smeaton’s Lighthouse. The beach itself is rather small and composed of rocks and shingle.

This section of the coast is quite rocky and visitors wishing to enjoy an outdoor swim without the risks of entering the sea can enjoy a splash in Tinside Lido, a delightful 1930’s art-deco saltwater swimming pool.

That makes a grand total of 14 combined sewer overflows polluting 7 beaches.

[Update – August 26th]

Here is this morning’s summary of some of the unfortunate side effects of yesterday’s inclement Bank Holiday Friday weather, according to the Surfers Against Sewage sewage pollution map:

In addition to yesterday’s “wet weather spills” there has been more sewage pollution at both Lynmouth and Exmouth on Bank Holiday Saturday morning:

In addition one of the combined sewer overflow (CSO) monitors at Budleigh Salterton, just along the coast from Exmouth, is now “undergoing maintenance, investigation or improvement”:

To be continued…

Jim Hunt

I've been programming computers since the late 60s. In those days they didn't have computers in schools, so we had to build our own. What can I program next? Will I have to build it first?

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jim Hunt

    The “communications problem” at the Little Knowle CSO monitor in Budleigh Salterton has now been fixed:

    However the long standing problem at Lynmouth still remains:

  2. Jim Hunt

    Somewhat belatedly, there was a brief sewage pollution incident at Polstreath beach near Mevagissey on Bank Holiday Monday evening:

    This morning the Gould Road CSO monitor in Salcombe is “undergoing maintenance”:

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