Live warnings that raw sewage is spilling into the sea have been switched off until early spring.

The alert service to surfers and bathers has seen tens of thousands of text messages sent out when sewage has been released from combined sewer overflows.

The switch off is to allow South West Water (SWW) to "improve" the alerts.

Surfers Against Sewage has warned water users to be on their guard until the service resumes, saying that there was no other way for people to check the water quality.

Andy Cummins, from SAS said: "It's a really useful tool, not just for surfers, but for families too with young children or elderly people.
"If it's going to be more reliable that's a benefit, but there is no other way for people to check."

Mr Cummins said: "This summer was the worst for 10 years in bathing water quality.

"There will be tougher standards in 2015 and South West Water needs to do more to protect one of the area's greatest assets."

An SWW spokeswoman said there were over 1,700 combined sewer overflows in the region, with £75m invested in the last 10 years to "reduce the volume and improve the quality of discharges in the most sensitive areas including bathing and shellfish waters".

Adding that a £2bn investment in sewage treatment had "transformed" water quality.

To sign up for the alert, and see the work of Surfers Against Sewage click here