Raw sewage pours into the sea at two Devon beaches

Pollution warnings have been issued for two Devon beaches by an environmental charity. According to the Surfers’ Against Sewage water quality map, sewers have been emptied into the water at Salcombe North Sands and in Seaton.

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com 

Over the course of the long bank holiday weekend, visitors have been flocking to Devon’s coastlines and river banks during the four-day break. However, the change in weather has not seen so many venture into the water yesterday and today with yellow thunderstorm warnings having been issued by the Met Office.

Surfers’ Against Sewage puts warnings in place on beaches where a sewer has been ‘discharged’ within 48 hours, often due to heavy rainfall causing an overflow of the combined sewage and run-off system. The Cornwall-based charity’s campaign against water pollution has led to the creation of the warning system which advises when swimmers and surfers should stay out of the water to avoid getting sick or ingesting sewage.

These are the alerts where the sewage is coming from today (Sunday, June 5), according to Surfer’s Against Sewage:

Salcombe North Sands

There is a sewer flow discharging into the stream directly on the beach (Collaton Stream) and another that discharges into the Salcombe Estuary offshore of the beach.

The beach warnings in Devon

The beach warnings in Devon (Image: Surfers’ Against Sewage)

Seaton (Devon)

The Seaton Sewage Treatment Works discharges disinfected sewage into the River Axe Estuary two and a half kilometres from the bathing water.

Over the jubilee weekend, Surfers Against Sewage has relaunched its Safer Seas & Rivers Service as new data shows the public are scared to swim outside for fear of dirty waters. The public health information, provided as real-time alerts straight to the user’s phone, helps beachgoers make an informed decision on how, when and where to use the UK’s beautiful beaches and rivers to avoid any potentially harmful pollution coming from sewer overflows and farming run-off.

The charity claims water companies discharged raw sewage into UK waters over 370,000 times in 2021 alone. It says it demonstrates how important real-time pollution alerts are in helping the public dodge poor water quality and have the cleanest and safest experience possible.

The Safer Seas & Rivers Service app – already a trusted source of water quality information for its 88,000 subscribers – enables users to see where untreated sewage has been discharged in real-time. The platform allows the public to check water quality at over 400 bathing locations across England, Scotland, and Wales, submit reports of illness suffered after time spent in the water, and take direct action by contacting their MP and the CEO of their local water company to demand an urgent end to sewage pollution.

In the last 2 years, 640 reports of illness have been submitted through the app, ranging from ear and eye infections to gastrointestinal and diarrhoea.

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