March Sewage Pollution in South West England

It’s the day after February 28th, and the previous month’s sewage pollution article is overflowing with almost continuous news of combined sewer overflow activations around the coast of Devon and Cornwall. I’ve taken the liberty of starting this article a day early, hoping rather than expecting that March will be a bit quieter.

After yet more rain overnight, here is this morning’s Surfers Against Sewage map of pollution around our coasts:

Starting with the local surfing beaches, sewage pollution has been occurring this morning at Widemouth Bay:

and the adjacent Trevone and Harlyn Bays, amongst numerous other places across Cornwall:

Further west, the Environment Agency’s advice against bathing due to sewage pollution at Perranporth continues into a 3rd day:

The Met Office’s latest weather warning for heavy rain on March 1st doesn’t augur well!

[Update – March 1st]

Following the overnight rain a few orange pushpins have been added to South West Water’s WaterFit Live map of CSO activations in the previous 12 hours:

Of our local surfing beaches Westward Ho! is suffering a longer burst of sewage pollution than usual:

Meanwhile at Widemouth Bay poop has been pumped into the ocean since the early hours:

Further down the North Cornwall coast Polzeath endured over 10 hours of sewage pollution this morning:

Needless to say it should not come as a surprise to discover that Harlyn and Trevone are also still suffering:

I suppose that in all the circumstances it should come as some small comfort that the beaches in Bude haven’t suffered any sewage pollution since February 22nd?

[Update – March 2nd]

Today’s WaterFit Live map shows a slight improvement over yesterday’s. At least Lynmouth’s pushpin has turned grey, since the “maintenance, investigation or improvement” at the sewage treatment works has still not been completed:

We’ll get back to the ongoing sewage pollution at our local beaches in due course, but before that there have been several Environment Agency “Advice against bathing” warnings on the south coast. In Devon there’s been one at Budleigh Salterton:

In Cornwall there have been two, presumably related, warnings at Seaton and Downderry:

South West Water’s WaterFit Live page for Seaton reveals that sewage pollution has now been continuing there for over a week:

Meanwhile in North Devon the CSO at Woolacombe has now been continuously active for over 2 weeks:

Around the corner at Combe Martin it’s coming up to a week:

Meanwhile at Croyde Bay, personally inspected last month by Minister for Water and Rural Affairs Robbie Moore, sewage was flowing into the ocean for a “mere” hour and half yesterday:

[Update – March 4th]

At least Widemouth Bay is missing from today’s WaterFit Live map of South West England!

However numerous other beaches are not:

The Environment Agency have issued another “Advice against bathing” warning, this time for Porthtowan on the north coast of Cornwall:

[Update – March 5th]

The pollution at Woolacombe finally seems to have stopped:

Needless to say, the same does not apply elsewhere, including at Harlyn and Combe Martin:

[Update – March 7th]

Overnight there has been yet another Environment Agency “Advice against bathing” warning, this time on the coast of North Devon at Combe Martin:

Looking on the bright side for a change, the pollution at Harlyn seems to have stopped at long last:

[Update – March 8th]

The number of active CSOs is gradually reducing:

However yesterday there were yet more Environment Agency “Advice against bathing” warnings, by way of a change in South Devon. The warnings for Exmouth and Dawlish Warren have the same cause, presumably some sort of spill into the Exe Estuary:

There has also been a problem at Blackpool Sands in the South Hams:

Pausing for breath to take a look at some south coast rivers, the Efford Marsh storm overflow in Plymouth has stopped discharging towards the River Plym after over 3 weeks of continuous operation:

However another CSO in Plympton has started up instead. Sticking with the south coast of Devon there seems to have been an all too brief interruption to the flow of sewage into the River Erme that started on February 12th:

Meanwhile in South East Cornwall sewage has been polluting the River Vinnick/White River continuously for over a month:

Pollution of the River Seaton continues also:

[Update – March 9th]

This morning’s WaterFit Live map suggests that all is well on the Atlantic coast of Devon and Cornwall for those of us wishing to take advantage of the onshore swell and offshore winds this weekend:

Except at Portreath that is, where the CSO has been active continuously since March 4th:

However, according to the Environment Agency last night they issued yet another “Advice against bathing” due to sewage pollution at Mawgan Porth:

[Update – March 10th]

It never rains, but it pours? Here’s this afternoon’s WaterFit Live map:

Once again there is a sea of orange along the south coast. On the north coast our local big beach break at Widemouth Bay is suffering from sewage pollution yet again:

Further west the EA’s “Advice against bathing” at Mawgan Porth has been lifted. However the beach was subject to a more usual burst of CSO activity in the wee small hours:

Further west still, the poop has been pumping at Portreath all night and all morning:

[Update – March 11th]

Fresh from running around Plymouth with Rishi Sunak, Plymouth Moor View MP Johnny Mercer was spotted swimming with Home Secretary James Cleverly off Plymouth Hoe at the weekend:

James is obviously made of sterner stuff than Rishi, because he was willing to not only risk ignoring the “Danger!” sign but also the possibility of swallowing a few bugs during his hopefully refreshing exercise:

Needless to say Plymouth isn’t the only place on the south coast where such a risk might be taken today:

[Update – March 12th]

As anticipated, the overnight rain, has increased the number of CSOs overflowing on the north coast:

On the south coast the Environment Agency has issued “Advice against bathing” warnings due to sewage pollution at Exmouth and Dawlish Warren once again:

[Update – March 16th]

Today’s WaterFit Live map shows a reducing number of recently active combined sewer overflows:

One of those is at Beer in East Devon:

Subsequently the the Environment Agency issued yet another “Advice against bathing” warning:

[Update – March 17th]

Overnight rain means that the WaterFit Live map is flooded with orange pushpins along the north coast of South West England yet again this morning:

In Scott Mann MP’s North Cornwall constituency there have been sewage “spills” at Widemouth Bay, Polzeath and an ongoing incident at Harlyn Bay:

In Selaine Saxby MP’s North Devon constituency there is a continuing CSO activation at Woolacombe and other incidents at Lynmouth, Combe Martin and Ilfracombe:

[Update – March 18th]

This morning there are two more Environment Agency “Advice against bathing” warnings at Holywell Bay and Crantock on the north coast of Cornwall:

There are still plenty of orange pushpins on the WaterFit Live map:

[Update – March 19th]

There’s still plenty of metaphorical “red flags” on this morning’s WaterFit Live map:

The Environment Agency has issued an “Advice against bathing” warning due to sewage pollution at Perranuthnoe on the south coast of Cornwall:

[Update – March 20th]

Thankfully the weather is improving, and the orange pushpins are gradually disappearing from the WaterFit Live map:

However there are still several ongoing multi-day sewage pollution incidents:

The “spills” at Plymouth, Mothecombe and Seaton started on March 16th after all too brief respites. At Portreath pollution restarted on March 17th.

[Update – March 21st]

Harlyn Bay has disappeared from the WaterFit Live map this morning:

However the CSO activations at Portreath and Mothecombe continue:

The “spills” at Plymouth and Seaton have restarted after an all too brief hiatus:

[Update – March 23rd]

The WaterFit Live map contains a few new orange pushpins on the south coast of Devon today:

Once again there have been “spills” at Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and Salcombe:

[Update – March 24st]

Here’s this morning’s edition of South West Water’s WaterFit Live map :

Overnight the Environment Agency has issued an “Advice against bathing” warning due to sewage pollution at Holcombe beach between Teignmouth and Dawlish:

[Update – March 25th]

After rain overnight and throughout the day, this evening there are sewage pollution incidents all over the map once again:

On the North Cornwall coast Widemouth Bay, Polzeath and Harlyn Bay are suffering once again, with a double dose at the latter two:

[Update – March 26th]

Widemouth Bay has dropped off the WaterFit Live map this morning:

However the ongoing sewage pollution at Harlyn is now aided and abetted by next door Trevone. Further west there are also active CSOs at Mawgan Porth and Portreath:

Moving on to the south coast of Cornwall, this evening there are ongoing sewage pollution “spills” affecting Falmouth, Pentewan, Fowey, Looe and Seaton:

In the latter four the pollution is carried to the affected beach by a river.

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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