Warning to stay out of water at 14 Thanet beaches and bays still not lifted

Warning signs at Thanet beaches in 2021 Photo Rebecca Douglas

Advice against bathing at 14 of Thanet’s beaches still remains in place six days after an unscreened wastewater release from the Southern Water pumping station at Broadstairs on October 5.

All signs will stay displayed on the affected beaches between Westbrook Bay and the Western Undercliff in Ramsgate.

Since the incident, Thanet council has attended daily calls with Southern Water and the Environment Agency to assess the impact on the coastline.

Contractors for Southern Water have carried out beach inspections every day to assess the impact of the spill and to clean up any evidence of debris. Council officers are also continuing to carry out visual inspections.

Photo Rebecca Douglas

Thanet council says the situation is improving, however as there has continued to be evidence of some items being washed up onto the shoreline, the advice for now remains in place.

A public protest has been organised to take place on October 23 at the Margate harbour steps from noon.

County Councillor Karen Constantine is in contact with the water company and is seeking a public meeting for early in November.

Initially swimmers were warned against using three – and then five – of the bays at Broadstairs but this was updated and signs advising the public not to enter the water were  put in place across the Westbrook to Ramsgate stretch.

Photo Frank Leppard

A Southern Water spokesperson said the unscreened wastewater release had been due to a fault with pumps, with the resulting release at Joss Bay.

A statement issued by the company last week said: “Following the fault at our Broadstairs Pumping Station on Tuesday morning, we are continuing to comb nearby beaches for any evidence of impact and clean up if necessary.

“We will continue to do this until we, the Environment Agency and Thanet District Council are satisfied no risk of environmental damage remains.

“A full investigation is taking place to understand the cause of the fault.

“Southern Water is passionately committed to the environment and part of this is being fully transparent about how we operate. We’re leading the way within the water industry with pollution reporting, and the Beachbuoy Bathing Water Portal is part of this. We’re also very heavily invested in cutting pollution incidents, reducing them by 75% by 2025. In Thanet, this includes a first-of-its-kind surface water drainage survey for the area.”

“Across the Southern Water region, we’re investing £200 million a year for wastewater assets and environmental protection.”

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


  1. Save our NHS in Kent invites all protesters to a demonstration on Margate Harbour steps 12 noon on Saturday 23rd October. Poor water quality is a public health issue.

    • Their CEO raked over £500,000 in bonuses last year when they were polluting then as well. Their finance officer got nearly £300,000 bonus as well.

      He has now agreed to take a pay freeze for a few years. How nice of him to do that while still earning £500,000 basic anyway.

  2. As a Margate resident and member of the marine conservation I have observed the stretch from the winter gardens up to the nayland rock there is no sign of any discharge in that area been doing this for the last few days. Those protesters and complaining about litter on our beaches are giving a very negative disregard for tourism. There are some who don’t want visitors and prefer dole on sea. No doubt I will get some rude comments from people the fact is you sometimes get that situation when we have bad weather. Allrough southern water need to improve the situation.The ridiculous litter display on Margate station does not help visitors. It’s not locals who do this a small number of visitors do with litter. Some people want to stop blaming locals for this.

    • But obviously there is raw sewage on the beaches otherwise the signs would not have been put out again. It is not always visible as you walk along the beach though but might be left after high tide, it could be covered by seaweed and sand. The sand should be sieved by the mechanical tractor to lift anything left lying each day.

  3. When you think of the lack of investment and the sheer incompetence of Southern water its incredible that SW have not been taken back into public ownership. How dare any company put the public at risk let alone a water firm how do we know we can trust our drinking water to be safe in their hands. They have absolutely no credibility left whatsoever.
    We will be at the demonstration and urge everyone who cares about our coast and water to be there.

  4. So sad . Sad for the wildlife. The wading birds feeding off the poisoned marine life. Sad for the marine life suffocating in human waste. Sad for the few seals that swim our foreshore, swimming in water full of bacteria and foul stench. Sad for the fish, gulls, cormorants, curlews, turnstones, dunlin, starfish, lobster, crabs all swirling about in sewage…..Southern Water you are a shameful disgrace

    • And what do you think happens to the excrement from the fish, gulls, cormorants, curlews, turnstones, dunlin, starfish, lobster and crabs?

  5. It seems an extraordinary coincidence that these ‘faults’ pumping stations always take place at times of high, but not that exceptional rainfall. We always get a lot of rain in autumn, but SW’s inability to cope with this on multiple occasions in the last few years suggests that their equipment is now simply not up to the job which would not have caused a problem in the past, and their whole operation needs investigation and radical overhaul. Rather than pay high dividends to shareholders they should invest in their business or face being taken into public ownership, which would cut out the profiteers and ensure a better service for users.

  6. Only one person to blame Thatcher.

    Yet some how thanet remains a tory stronghold. So I would say most thanet people are happy with things.

    Let the shit continue !!

  7. Nobody at Viking bay earlier were following advice , paddle boarders , dogs , people walking all in or along the water’s edge !

  8. Southern Water keep referring to their “first-of-its-kind surface water drainage survey for the area” costing £400K, as tho’ that is a solution and we should be content! It is not.
    The capacity and reliability of both Foreness and Broadstairs pumping stations is clearly inadequate and fixing that should be the priority.
    Southern Water, stop trying to find excuses. Next it’ll be that we have “the wrong type of rain”!

Comments are closed.