Southern Water discharges sewage at nearly all bathing beaches over past week

Note: The quality of bathing water at beaches in the UK is monitored only during the summer months, from May until October. Yet all-year-round water sports are increasingly popular.

And new terminology: “Non-impacting” sewage discharges, defined by Southern Water as those that flow at least five kilometres (three miles) into the sea.

Owl wonders whether South West Water has NISDs (non-impacting sewage discharges).

Southern Water has discharged sewage for thousands of hours over the past week at dozens of bathing-water beaches in England.

George Sandeman www.thetimes.co.uk

Water quality campaigners analysed the company’s data from the first eight days of November and found wastewater had been released 493 times at 83 beaches, for a total of 3,700 hours.

Last year Southern Water discharged sewage into waterways for more than 160,000 hours and each release lasted an average of 8.4 hours, according to the Environment Agency.

The quality of bathing water at beaches in the UK is monitored only during the summer months, from May until October, meaning that the impact of sewage released by Southern Water this month will not be measured.

Ed Acteson, of the campaign group SOS Whitstable, told The Guardian: “The Environment Act was supposed to herald a new era for the environment in Britain. But this is the worst I have ever seen.

“There are 86 bathing-water beaches, and as of yesterday 78 of them were showing sewage discharges and another five had discharges which the company says are non-impacting.

“This is environmental vandalism and most of these discharges are still ongoing . . . It fills us with foreboding for the coming winter months.”

“Non-impacting” sewage discharges are defined by Southern Water as those that flow at least five kilometres (three miles) into the sea.

The company has recently changed its pollution alert map, which can be accessed by the public, to reduce the number of red flags that would have appeared automatically after a discharge. Now only those deemed to be impacting are marked.

The beach at Pagham, to the west of Bognor Regis in West Sussex, is among those affected by the sewage releases this month. It water quality was rated excellent this summer but wastewater has been released for more than 179 hours over the past week.

Sandown Beach, listed by the tourist board as one of the finest on the Isle of Wight, had more than 65 hours of wastewater released.

Nick Mill, the head of Southern Water’s clean rivers and seas task force, said that significant rainfall over the past week had necessitated the release of the sewage. “To protect homes, schools and businesses from flooding, storm overflows act as a release valve to relieve the pressure, allowing excess flows to bypass treatment and enter rivers and the sea,” he said.

“These discharges are heavily diluted, typically 95 per cent rainwater, and are permitted by the Environment Agency. However, we know that these are not acceptable and this is why we are working hard to reduce them.”

 

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