All clear given to enter the sea at Joss Bay 11 days after Southern Water pumping station failure

Joss Bay Photo Frank Leppard

Advice against swimming or going beyond the high water line has now been removed from Joss Bay in Broadstairs.

It means the advice against swimming put in place at 14 Thanet beaches and bays following a failure at Southern Water’s Wastewater Pumping Station in Broadstairs on Tuesday 5 October, has now been totally lifted.

14 beaches and bays were affected Photo Frank Leppard

A Thanet council statement says: “Following continued beach inspections, we can confirm that advice against bathing has now been lifted at Joss Bay, meaning that restrictions are no longer in place on any Thanet beaches.

“The signs have now been removed across all 14 bays where advice had previously been in place.

“In order to be as robust as possible, there will be ongoing inspections by Southern Water and council officers to ensure this improved picture remains to be the case.”

The removal of all restrictions is good news for this weekend’s final Tech Race of paddleboarding’s GBSUP National Series in Broadstairs.

The Viking Bay Classic will be staged tomorrow (October 16) in partnership with Kent Surf School and Kent SUP Racing after the latter was asked by GBSUP (Great Britain Stand Up Paddleboarding) to host the final event of its national Ocean Technical series.

Last night (October 14) it was revealed that the Environment Agency is carrying out a criminal investigation into a Southern Water waste discharge made on June 16/17 which resulted in advice not to enter the water at 11 Thanet beaches and bays, it has confirmed in an email to district councillor Rob Yates.

Foreness pumping station Photo Rob Yates

The wastewater release at the Foreness Pumping Station was due to a lightning strike and heavy rainfall, said Southern Water.

The company said the lightning strike caused a power outage and also disabled the telemetry systems, causing the discharge via the outfall. Power was restored to the site via power from the emergency generator but not in time to help the telemetry to control the site as intended.

It resulted in a release from the outfall pipes into Palm Bay and Margate Sands which impacted the majority of Thanet’s coastline.

A Southern Water spokesperson said: “Since the lightning strike at our Margate works, we’ve been working closely with the Environment Agency and conducting our own root cause analysis of the incident which will help us to make assets more resilient in the face of extreme weather events. As is usual, the EA is conducting its own standard investigation and we will continue to share all relevant data with them. Southern Water is one of the most open and transparent company on environmental information in the sector. Protecting the environment is our key priority.”

During a council meeting last night, authority leader Cllr Ash Ashbee said further compensation was being sought from Southern Water over the latest spill.

The leader said she may well “add a nought” to the £100,000 received to compensate for the discharge made in June.

She said: “I would love to take them (Southern Water) to court but this council can’t afford to do that, I’ll leave that to the Environment Agency.

“Unfortunately they’re the ones that get the £90 million that went into the coffers last time and it doesn’t disseminate back into the district authorities that actually suffer.”

Cllr Ashbee will again be writing to the Environment Agency, water regulators Ofwat and says she, council top officers and MPs will be meeting with Chief Executive of Southern Water Ian McAuley  in the next couple of weeks.

She also revealed that Thanet council had not been notified of this month’s wastewater discharge, telling the meeting: “My understanding is an electrical failure occurred at 8:45am and a backup generator was not working.

“Due to the need for a qualified electrician to isolate the problem the site could not come back online until 10:30am. During that period unscreened wastewater was discharged into the sea. The council was not notified of this discharge by Southern Water.”

Final race of Great Britain Stand Up Paddleboarding series to be held at Viking Bay

2 Comments

  1. i dont think i will bother in future , i will just stick my head down an unflushed toilet , it saves leaving the house for the same effect.

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