Beach users are being advised not to enter the water at Botany, Joss, Kingsgate, Stone and Viking bays in Broadstairs after yet another release of unscreened wastewater by Southern Water.
Thanet council has issued an alert today (October 5) and says signs will be put on the affected beaches.
According to Southern Water’s Beach Buoy webpage Fulsam Rock and Walpole Bay in Margate are also affected.
⛔️ Following a Southern Water unscreened wastewater release, beach users are advised not to enter the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark at the following beaches:
— Communications Team (@ThanetCouncil) October 5, 2021
Thanet council says it is awaiting further information fromSouthern Water and is also working with the Environment Agency “to understand the impact of the incident.”
The release follows heavy rain last night.
A Southern Water statement says: “As a result of storm damage, pumps at our Broadstairs Wastewater Pumping Station failed for a short period of time this morning.
“To protect local properties from flooding, flows were diverted and a release made via a short sea outfall at Joss Bay. We have responded quickly to restart pumps and stop the spill, getting the site back up and running.
“No pollution is acceptable to us and we have plans in place to cut them by 75% by 2025 – including a £400K first of its kind wastewater network survey planned for Thanet.
“Cleaning the beaches at Joss Bay, Botany Bay and Viking Bay is a matter of priority, and we are undertaking extensive modelling and working with the EA and Thanet District Council to minimise any impact on the environment.”
In June beachgoers were advised to stay out of the water at 11 Thanet beaches and bays following a wastewater release at the Southern Water Foreness Wastewater Pumping Station overnight June 16/17 due to a lightning strike and heavy rainfall.
The incident meant advice against going into the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark remained in place for just over 6 days – finally being lifted on June 23.
The water company, which Macquarie Asset Management has bought a majority stake in, has paid £100,000 compensation to Thanet council and paid £16,000 to 16 of the 36 Thanet businesses who submitted claims for impact on trade after the sewage release in June. A number of other businesses also have claims for compensation being assessed currently.
Councillors attended a tour of the Foreness pumping station on October 1.
In July Southern Water was fined a record £90million for illegally dumping raw sewage into the sea.
During a sentencing hearing at Canterbury Crown Court, it was heard the water company pumped an estimated 16bn to 21bn litres of untreated sewage into protected waters around the south coast.
Southern Water faced 51 sewage pollution charges which took place between 2010 and 2015.
The case was said to be the biggest ever brought by the Environment Agency after sewage was released across the south coast from 16 Wastewater treatment works and one sewer overflow.
Also in July an Environment Agency report on the environmental performance of England’s nine water and sewerage companies concluded Southern Water requires improvement with pollution incidents “consistently unacceptable.”
Since 2011 the EA has used the Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA), which rates each company in England from 1 star to 4 star, for performance on environmental commitments such as pollution incidents and treatment work compliance. Where these commitments are not achieved, companies will face underperformance penalties, with Ofwat having new powers to levy fines from 2020.
Southern Water and South West Water were rated as 2 star (requiring improvement).
Last month Southern Water agreed to commission a full drainage survey of Margate and the surrounding areas in order to improve resilience of Foreness Point pumping station. The survey, estimated to come at a cost of some £400,000, will record all of the water pathways that contribute surface water and rain water to the drainage system. It will also assess the amount of water which is added to the system during storm periods.
The pledge was given by Southern Water chief executive Ian McAulay, at a briefing for Thanet councillors.