Southern Water issues statement ahead of ‘wastewater’ protest march

The clean up after the first waste release this June Photo Frank Leppard

Investigations are ongoing into the wastewater release at Foreness earlier this week and a compensation scheme is open for businesses affected by the incident, says Southern Water.

The statement issued this morning (June 20) comes ahead of a planned protest march to the pumping station by residents.

Photo Frank Leppard

People on the march are due to meet outside the Thanet council offices at 1pm, with further families and volunteer litter pickers meeting at Palm Bay café at 2pm, in a bid to demand Southern Water:

  • Compensate local businesses affected by reduced tourist traffic.
  • Compensate customers in Thanet who pay for water treatment, management and appropriate disposal.
  • Commit to investing in infrastructure at Foreness Pumping Station so that this never happens again.
Warning signs and flags are on Thanet beaches following the wastewater release Photo Frank Leppard

However, Dr Nick Mills, Head of Pollution and Flooding Resilience at Southern Water, said: “No pollution is acceptable to us or our customers and we apologise for the impact the latest incident has had on local residents, businesses and the environment.

“We are dedicated to protecting the environment and reducing pollution incidents is a top priority for us.

“We have invested £3.2billion across our region in the last six years to improve the capacity and efficiency of the wastewater network and will continue to do, with a  further £1.7billion committed for the next four years.

“As part of the Government’s CSO Task Force we are committed to tackling this national and complex issue and we are leading the way with the publication of our comprehensive Pollution Incident Reduction Plan last year.

“Wastewater releases at times of heavy rainfall happen across the UK to protect properties from flooding. The release that happened overnight on 16 June was caused by a combination of heavy rainfall and lightning strike during the storms which caused a short power failure and affected systems on site at our Margate Water Pumping Station.

Margate pumping station (Image Southern Water)

“ Back-up generators are in place. As part of our preparations for the predicted thunderstorms and heavy rainfall we also had a team standing by in the area. These additional precautionary measures meant we were able to immediately begin work restoring the site to full operation.

“Unfortunately, we had to make this emergency release to protect local homes and businesses from internal flooding.

“Our investigations into this incident are ongoing and we continue to work closely with the Environment Agency and Thanet District Council. We continue to monitor the coastline and clean-up after each high tide.

“A compensation scheme for businesses is available and business owners affected by this incident can make a claim.”

Photo Frank Leppard

In liaison with the Environment Agency, advice against bathing is in place at the following bays:

Minnis Bay

West Bay

St Mildreds Bay


Margate Main Sands

Walpole Bay

Palm Bay


Botany Bay

Kingsgate Bay

Joss Bay

Signs have been placed on these bays to inform beach users.

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


  1. As this is in an Estuary, this waste will not be washed out to sea, some can be picked up from the beaches, some will become sediment in the sea, which will take months, if not years to break up. It happened last year and now again this. SW need to urgently upgrade this facility, not in the future but now

    • I don’t think the North Foreland is an estuary!
      It’s always possible to construct backup systems and so on, but they all cost money (our money). There are back up generators in place, but it seems that control systems were knocked out by the lightning strikes, so the generators didn’t kick in.
      You could have the pumping stations manned 24×7, but again, that would cost more of our money.
      We could help ourselves by not putting stuff down the loo we shouldn’t, and stop concreting over our gardens (the rain, instead of soaking into the ground, goes straight down the drain and overwhelms the pumping stations)

      • Maybe they could spend some of their millions of profits (our money) on such systems and staff.

  2. Their only concern is profit for their French and Australian shareholders .TDC should be instructing lawyers as we suffer economically.this is a too regular an occurrence every year for over a decade.they should be stripped of their contract.await disgusting chlorinated drinking liquid….

  3. This has happened several times over the last few years, and results in great disappointment for holidaymakers visiting the area who are prevented from using the beach and facilities while the contamination continues. Simply not acceptable – Southern Water should cut down on payments to shareholders to pay for cleanups and compensation for the nuisance, not add it to our water bills.

  4. I am sure that the hoards of visitors last year left more cr@p on the beach than has been accidentally released by an antiquated system. Was it a lightning strike that knocked out the power or did the caravan club nick the auxiliary generator?

  5. They claim a combination of heavy rainfall and lightening strike. Well leave out the lightning strike as the heavy rainfall is enough to cause the outage of raw sewage into the sea each time on it’s own. There will be no sympathy for any lightning strike excuses which is not even evident on the station, but they could easily have erected a lightning conductor for the station years ago to prevent any strikes causing failures in the pumps. They need to spend money on this station urgently to stop the continual failure each time we have heavy downpours. It’s a sure thing it will happen again so they need to be prepared to turn on extra pumps at these times.

  6. No amount of money can stop the destruction of our own planet. Everything should not be measured on money. What about nature! What about the animals that live on our coastline or in the sea. Again humans do best at destroying everything we touch. Climate change is here. We need to change human behaviour. Southern water needs to take better care of our coastline as do we all need to take care of our environment. What sort of planet are we leaving for our children?

  7. Interestingly if you take the figures mentioned at face value (I would want a lot more detail before I trusted them!) what they are actually saying is that they plan to spend LESS on the network over the next 4 years than they have over the previous 6, looking at it on a per year basis, so that’s hardly comforting!!

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