Swimmers advised to stay out of water at five Thanet bays after ‘unscreened’ wastewater release

Discover Broadstairs (Joss Bay Photo Frank Leppard)

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.


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.

Walpole Bay is also affected according to the Beach Buoys site Photo John Horton

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.

Warning signs following the waste water discharge in June Photo John Horton

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.”

Clean up operation Photo Frank Leppard

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).

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

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.

UPDATE –Bathers told not to enter water or beach below the high water mark across Thanet coast from Westbrook to Ramsgate due to ‘unscreened’ wastewater spill

Thanet bathing water action plan put forward in bid to stop waste pollution on our coast

Environment Agency report brands Southern Water’s performance as “consistently unacceptable”


  1. Same old same old… Southern Water only have one job, to manage the water so when a bit of water falls they fails…not bad really the thing you sell is free to you and you have no competition to force down prices but still you can’t manage..

  2. Boris what are you doing about these water poisonous waste of space called southern spoil the water morons
    Our two local MPs don’t seem to do much about it. I wonder if Ms Dawes can set up a judicial review and stop SW trading Dawes seems to bang on about pollution what about pollution in a sea around the coast don’t that pollution matter. With the tides it’s not just one or two beaches it’s all our beaches.

  3. yep – same old story , i expect our local mp,s will have some stern words to say – then do precisely nothing , thats if they are not on the p**s at thier little conference.

  4. More shit dumped by these cowboys and they just get away with it.
    It is not bad enough that we have to endure the disgusting stench of sewage,every afternoon.

  5. Maybe Ms Dawes will start a judicial review, Ramsgate town council can give another £10000 + to her bank account,

    • Sea water pollution caused by SWA is as bad as air pollution Ms Penelope, by aircraft flying in over Ramsgate Harbour at less than 300 meters high,250/200 along the High Street, and less over Ellington Park, and about 100 meters high over Nevercourt before touchdown! And it will affect ALL of Thanet, not just people in the CT11 postal area! So, all you very concerned people calling for a Judicial Review into SWA, why don’t you do it, and not leave it to someone who has the guts to do something about saving the health of all Thanet people!

      • Dumpton , for your information I live in nethercourt and would love to see the aircraft flying over again

  6. Looking at the country as a whole this is far from unique to Southern Water. I monitor Langland Bay on the Gower where there was a release yesterday as well, along with many other locations.

  7. Don’t they learn? Last time it cost the £9M.What do they have to be fined to make it dearer rather than cheaper to flush the sewage and not treat it.

    Its time to nationalise

    • Fines have no impact-because they just charge customers more & fire staff. Unless the directors go to jail nothing will change.

      • In general-they put the signs up when there has been a spill, but as we have seen in the past it is retrospective & you have no clue what you are paddling in until then.

        SW admitted last year that between 2010 & 2015 they were deliberately discharging sewage into water at Herne Bay, Whitstable & the Solent to save money-who knows what else they managed to get away with? Nobody has any idea what they are swimming in until a later date, if at all.

        All SW do every time there is a release is trot out one of their shills to say it is unacceptable & say sorry, just like they did years ago. You can only hope this Australian bank that has bought a majority stake are actually serious about sorting this out-however their history isn’t promising- Macquarie is one of the world’s biggest infrastructure investors, with stakes in Cadent, the gas distribution network, and KCOM, a fibre telecoms business in the UK. It was the largest investor in Thames Water, Britain’s biggest water company, between 2006 and 2017 and was widely criticised for extracting millions of pounds in dividends as the utility struggled with leakages and pollution failures.

        • I – and many others- have swum off Ramsgate main sands for the last four months without seeing anything I wouldn’t want to be near except for jetskis.

  8. i expect sir roger and his sidekick are listening to boris,s drivel and falling about laughing and clapping at every word he says – and doing nothing about this ridiculous situation again !

    • Don’t see any defence, he is just pointing out it is likely a nationwide issue with most if not all water firms.

    • Bill – Grow up. There is a world beyond Thanet but perhaps you have never ventured beyond its boundaries! Other water companies are sometimes overwhelmed/suffer problems as Steve pointed out.

  9. “No pollution is acceptable to us and we have plans in place to cut them by 75% by 2025″
    This is unacceptable – it should be 100%!

  10. Wonder how much per litre they will get fined this time, 100 litres of crap for a penny maybe ? Makes that Environment Agency report seem totally pointless and a waste of time.

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