Alert issued over beach use between Margate and Joss Bay after waste water release

Warning signs following the waste water discharge Photo John Horton

Beach-goers are being advised not to enter the sea or beach area below the high water mark between Margate and Joss Bay following a waste water release at a Southern Water pumping station.

An alert issued by Thanet council this morning says: “Following a Southern Water incident at Margate Pumping Station, beach users are advised not to enter the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark between Margate Main Sands and Joss Bay. Signs to advise people of this are being put out on the beaches asap.”

Empty Margate sands Photo John Horton

A Southern Water spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry to report that due to a lightning strike at Margate Wastewater Pumping Station overnight yesterday, wastewater was released via the emergency outfall into Palm Bay and Margate Sands.

“The site was damaged and suffered a power outage during the heavy storm, and the heavily diluted incoming flows were diverted through the outfall to prevent wastewater backing up and to protect local properties from internal flooding.

“A team had been placed at site in preparation for the bad weather, so was able to immediately begin work to restore services.

“A beach walk happened at first light and a clean-up is under way. No pollution is acceptable to us or our customers. We’re working with the Environment Agency, Natural England and the local authority to assess the impact on the environment.”

Photo Frank Leppard

The damage at the site was caused by a lightning strike.

A Thanet council spokesperson added: “We have been alerted by Southern Water to an incident at the Margate Wastewater Pumping Station following a lightning strike overnight (Thursday 17 June).

 “As a result of this incident wastewater was released via the emergency outfall of the Southern Water pumping station at Foreness.

 “In liaison with the Environment Agency, the council is advising members of the public not to enter the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark on bays between Margate Main Sands and Joss Bay.

 This includes:

  • Margate Main Sands

  • Walpole Bay

  • Palm Bay

  • Foreness

  • Botany Bay

  • Kingsgate Bay

  • Joss Bay

 “Signs have been placed on these beaches and bays to inform beach users. Southern Water has confirmed that the pumping station is now operating as it should and will continue to be closely monitored.

Photo Frank Leppard

 “A clean up operation is now underway. We will continue to work closely with all of the agencies involved to understand the impacts of this incident and the Environment Agency will be carrying out water quality testing to inform the next steps.

“We will keep members of the public informed.”

Last year volunteer litter pickers from the Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate spent more than 100 hours over the six weeks following a similar sewage incident picking up thousands of wet wipes, tampons and other waste.