Sewage battle takes to the beach at Godrevy

The sewage flooding into the sea on a busy summer day at Godrevy

The sewage flooding into the sea on a busy summer day at Godrevy

First published in News
Last updated

Surfers and water users will take to the beach this weekend in the battle to get South West Water to deal with repeated sewage discharges into bathing waters at Godrevy.

On Saturday at 1.30pm, beach users and Surfers Against Sewage supporters will be calling on the company to stop untreated human sewage pouring into the sea at the popular beach.

A spokesman for Surfers Against Sewage said they and members of the community felt compelled to act after South West Water discharged sewage three times in a two week period during June/July 2014 , which directly affected surfers, bathers and businesses.

From 1:30pm to 2:15pm campaigners in wetsuits will gather on the beach with placards and banners calling for South West Water to stop polluting the environment. 

Local resident, beach user and business woman Karin Howey, said; "This is the 21st century and we do not live in a third world country so how can it be acceptable that South West Water can allow untreated sewage on to our beaches.

SAS campaign director, Andy Cummins, said: "The community are sending a clear message to South West Water, this level of repeat polluting is unacceptable. There are easy and obvious solutions and it’s now time for South West Water to listen to SAS and the community and stop treating the environment as a dumping ground."

Sewer overflows are used as an emergency discharge to help alleviate storm water and untreated sewage when the system becomes close to bursting. However SAS believes these sewer overflows should only ever be used after extreme rainfall events and that the local community are "adamant these sewage discharges are happening far too frequently with unacceptable consequences".

Adding this is a "clear indication is that there are maintenance problems or other serious deficiencies in the waste water treatment system", the group is also concerned the Environment Agency sampling programme is "misleading" at Gwithian because they are "taken from an area of the beach that avoids the impacts of the Red River and South West Water’s sewage discharges".

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4:06pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Press Office says...

Please note that the image shown is NOT sewage discharge. It is the aptly-named Red River which churns over during or after heavy rainfall.

Statement from South West Water to provide some balance:

Periods of intense, heavy rainfall can lead to permitted overflows from our sewerage network which might affect bathing water quality. The overflows help protect properties, gardens and public spaces from being flooded. We take proactive steps through our online BeachLive service to alert beach managers to these situations so they can act accordingly and help beach users make informed decisions as to whether to swim or surf.

Godrevy beach is expected to achieve an Excellent rating next year under the European Union’s revised bathing water directive.

More than £2billion has been spent helping to clean up Devon and Cornwall's bathing waters – the biggest environmental programme of its kind in Europe – and an extra £20million is being invested this year, with a further £42 million planned from 2015 and 2020. The investment is guided by the Environment Agency, shaped by customer feedback and agreed with Ofwat, the industry’s economic regulator.

Unfortunately during periods of intense rainfall, the Combined Sewer system in the UK, which also removes surface water from roads, can sometimes become overloaded. It is generally recognised that to separate the surface and waste water networks completely across the UK would be prohibitively expensive and would lead to significantly higher bills for customers.

All CSOs, not just those in Devon and Cornwall, have to comply with strict European legislation and are regulated by the Environment Agency through discharge permits which prescribe the conditions under which they can operate. All of our discharges have these permits.

We continue to work with our partners and regulators to ensure that public health is protected.
Please note that the image shown is NOT sewage discharge. It is the aptly-named Red River which churns over during or after heavy rainfall. Statement from South West Water to provide some balance: Periods of intense, heavy rainfall can lead to permitted overflows from our sewerage network which might affect bathing water quality. The overflows help protect properties, gardens and public spaces from being flooded. We take proactive steps through our online BeachLive service to alert beach managers to these situations so they can act accordingly and help beach users make informed decisions as to whether to swim or surf. Godrevy beach is expected to achieve an Excellent rating next year under the European Union’s revised bathing water directive. More than £2billion has been spent helping to clean up Devon and Cornwall's bathing waters – the biggest environmental programme of its kind in Europe – and an extra £20million is being invested this year, with a further £42 million planned from 2015 and 2020. The investment is guided by the Environment Agency, shaped by customer feedback and agreed with Ofwat, the industry’s economic regulator. Unfortunately during periods of intense rainfall, the Combined Sewer system in the UK, which also removes surface water from roads, can sometimes become overloaded. It is generally recognised that to separate the surface and waste water networks completely across the UK would be prohibitively expensive and would lead to significantly higher bills for customers. All CSOs, not just those in Devon and Cornwall, have to comply with strict European legislation and are regulated by the Environment Agency through discharge permits which prescribe the conditions under which they can operate. All of our discharges have these permits. We continue to work with our partners and regulators to ensure that public health is protected. Press Office
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