Beach sewage warning website wins award
7:40am Friday 6th April 2012 in News
A website that warns beachgoers when raw sewage is being dumped into the sea by South West Water has been recognised at a water industry awards ceremony.
Beach Live, run by South West Water, gives beach users live bathing water quality information for 21 popular or Blue Flag beaches across Devon and Cornwall.
The site was launched in June 2011 after a national news programme highlighted that overflow pipes were pouring sewage into popular bathing waters at beaches in the county.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) helped the Panorama team expose that after heavy rain, raw sewage was discharging into rivers, seas and bathing waters, without warning to the public and water users.
The charity has its own service that send text alerts when equipment at combined sewage overflows (CSO’s) picks up the release of raw sewage.
A CSO is a Combined Sewage Overflow drain that acts as an emergency exit for raw sewage and rainwater if a sewage pumping station or treatment works is over capacity.
In August 2010 SAS exposed the large number of UK Blue Flag beaches without warning systems to protect the public after sewage discharges. As a result Keep Britain Tidy, which manages the Blue Falg scheme insisted on real-time warning systems at the UK’s Blue Flag beaches.
Serious illnesses can be contracted from sewage contaminated water, including bacillary dysentery, pneumonia, botulism, hepatitis A, meningitis and septicaemia.
The project is a partnership with Cornwall Council and other local authorities in the south west, the Environment Agency and the charity.
The site, which won first prize in the community project of the year category at the annual Water Industry Achievement Awards is set to be expanded to 40 beaches this summer.
It also features up-to-the-minute surf and weather forecasts plus information about beach facilities, past bathing water quality awards and details of how the public can do their bit to avoid pollution by proper waste disposal.
Cornwall Council’s head of public health and protection, Allan Hampshire said was delighted to be playing its part in ensure the public are informed about the quality of Cornwall’s bathing water and ensuring a swift response if a problem should arise.
The portfolio holder for community safety and public protection at the council Lance Kennedy said the better communication helped maintain confidence in the quality of Cornwall’s seas and beaches for residents and visitors alike.
He added: “We already know we have some of the consistently best bathing water quality in Europe but we can’t just take that for granted. We have to show others that fact and demonstrate what is going on to keep it that way.
For more information about the work of Surfers Against Sewage visit www.sas.org.uk.
To visit Visit Beach Live visit www.beachlive.co.uk.