Alerts for wastewater releases around Thanet’s coastline have been flagged on Southern Water’s Beachbuoy site.
The overflow releases, that may impact water quality, are flagged for Western Undercliff, Ramsgate main sands, Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Joss Bay, Botany Bay, Walpole Bay, Fulsam Rock and Margate main sands.
The outflows follow heavy rainfall last night (November 16). Initially unverified, outfalls at the majority of the sites – Stone Bay, Joss Bay, Botany Bay, Walpole Bay, Fulsam Rock and Margate main sands – are now confirmed with Viking Bay, Ramsgate and Western Undercliff expected to follow suit shortly.
The release from Margate has been verified as the first this year from the town’s wastewater pumping station. Releases were made from both the short and long sea outfall pipes.
Releases have also been confirmed further along the coast at Herne Bay and Whitstable.
A Southern Water spokesperson said: “We experienced significant heavy rain in Margate yesterday with 31mm of rain falling within a 12-hour period. We are currently reviewing the releases and will be providing a further update to the Beachbuoy website once the releases have been investigated further.”
Storm overflow (combined sewer outfalls) releases occur due to the predominantly combined sewer system, where both wastewater and rain runoff enter the same network. During heavy downpours, rain overloads the system. To avoid homes, businesses, schools and roads flooding, excess water is released into the sea. Releases are around 95% rainwater but have not been fully screened.
Southern Water is one of 11 water companies which earlier this year was ordered to reduce customers’ bills because of missed targets on areas such as water supply interruptions, pollution incidents and internal sewer flooding.
Southern Water has to return some £28.3million to its customers.
The company’s pollution incidents have hit the headlines numerous times, including two incidents last year. The first was a release of wastewater from the emergency outfall at Foreness Point in June 2021 which affected ten isle beaches. Southern Water said the release was due to a lightning strike at the wastewater pumping station.
The second was a failure at the Broadstairs pumping station in October 2021 resulting in advice against bathing or entering the area below the high water mark at 14 of Thanet’s beaches following an unscreened wastewater release.
An Environment Agency investigation into the Southern Water releases last year is being carried out with Margate councillor Rob Yates signed up as a formal witness for any proceedings.
The heavy rain also caused flooding at Margate’s All Saints Avenue this morning with pedestrians wading through a virtual river.
The water has soaked away after Margate resident and dad-of-two John Horton took action to clear the drains.