More clean up work needed following wastewater release

Warning signs and flags on Thanet beaches following the wastewater release Photo Frank Leppard

Southern Water says further clean up operations are needed at Westbrook and Minnis Bay following the release of wastewater from the Foreness Point pumping station on Wednesday night.

The waste was released via the emergency outfall into Palm Bay and Margate Sands.

The release, and another understood to have taken place last night although this has not been confirmed, has now affected 10 Thanet beaches and bays and spread up to Herne Bay and Tankerton. A separate issue means swimmers have also been advised not to go in the water at Viking Bay.

Thanet council has issued a warning not to enter the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark on affected beaches. Warning signs and red flags have been put in place.

In Thanet these are:

Warning signs following the waste water discharge Photo John Horton
  • Minnis Bay
  • West Bay
  • St Mildreds Bay
  • Westbrook
  • Margate Main Sands
  • Walpole Bay
  • Palm Bay
  • Foreness
  • Botany Bay
  • Kingsgate Bay
  • Viking Bay (separate incident,)

A Thanet council statement says Viking Bay  has also been impacted by significant rainfall and advice against going into the water has been extended to include this area.

Thanet council issued a statement saying: “Following an incident at the Southern Water Margate Wastewater Pumping Station and recent heavy rainfall, advice remains in place for members of the public not to enter the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark.

“A clean up operation around the coast led by Southern Water continues, with extra resources being deployed over the weekend.

“Separately to the incident, following the significant rainfall which also impacts the quality of the water, advice against bathing has now also been extended to include Viking Bay in Broadstairs.

“Beach users are urged to follow the advice on signs in place at bathing beaches and can also check the bathing waters webpage for information.

Photo Frank Leppard

“Thanet District Council teams remain out to assess the impact of the Southern Water incident and will continue to monitor the situation closely over the weekend.

“Southern Water has confirmed that the pumping station is operating as it should and will continue to monitor the site.

“Advice against bathing will only be lifted once it is considered safe and appropriate to do so.”

The Environment Agency has undertaken water quality testing in the area and inspections of the beaches will take place following every high tide.

Margate pumping station (Image Southern Water)

A Southern Water spokesperson said: “After completing the initial clean-up pre and post high tide, we have continued to monitor the coastline around Margate since the emergency release of wastewater. We have since identified new locations where we want to undertake further clean-up operations.

“Both the tides and the winds have an effect on when and where residual debris returns to shore and we are working closely with the Environment Agency and Local Authority to make sure the water is safe before the council lifts its advice against entering the water.

“While the beaches remain open above the high tide line, our focus remains on getting the water back to its original state. We offer our apologies to all those affected by this and assure people that we are working hard to make things right and be away from the area as soon as possible, so that people can fully enjoy it once more.”


  1. This is just unacceptable, Southern Water need to be fined very heavily and brought to task on this, they are clearly not up to the job and the pumping station needs a serious upgrading. In this day and age and the fact we are meant to be a tourist area this is unforgivable. questions needs to be answered by Southern Water

  2. Until a score or so years ago, almost all our sewage underwent just basic primary treatment before being discharged a 100 or so yards off the beach.
    It was thanks to EU legislation that all sewage now undergoes full treatment, and what is discharged into the sea is basically water.
    It’s interesting to note that most of what the clean-up teams are picking up from the beach us mostly stuff that shouldn’t have been put down the lavatory in the first place.

  3. Very often this occurs after heavy rain. Of course a ‘lightening strike’ is difficult to prove and now we hear there was another discharge – no lightning strike there.!Certainly Southern Water needs more investment, but private companies don’t do that, they are in for short term profit. We must take back public control of our essential services to make sure water is provided and sewage recycled healthily as the prime purposes, not profits for shareholders, most of whom are other large companies.

  4. Disgusting whot a blow to Thanet again already been voted worst beaches in uk total morons how can human waste be pumped into our beaches

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