Toilet paper and sewage was left floating in Falmouth harbour this week after a faulty valve allowed debris to be washed into the water.

A South West Water spokesperson confirmed that it received a report of a suspected pollution incident at the Prince of Wales Pier at around 8.30am on Tuesday, with workers going to investigate shortly afterwards.

One Packet reader contacted the paper on Tuesday to say: "There is sewage including toilet paper floating out from the overflow and is clearly visible.

"After it rains the pumps in this area appear unable to cope and raw sewage regularly flows into the harbour.

"Other harbours notify the public of the dangers of high sewage levels in the water but it appears that this is not done or required in Falmouth.

"I do not know if they have permission or a licence to allow sewage to enter the water at Prince of Wales Pier, but clearly it is not desirable."

The spokesperson for South West Water said the problem this week revolved around the storm water discharge pipe, which operated during heavy rain to prevent internal and external sewer flooding.

Falmouth Packet:

He said: “Our operators inspected the permitted storm water overflow outfall at the pier, which has recorded no discharges since June 15.

“We discovered debris on the overflow screen, which is used to prevent solid materials from being discharged during such events.

“We believe that the flap-valve on the discharge pipe, which is designed to prevent harbour water entering the pipe, is faulty and has therefore allowed some of the trapped debris to be washed into the harbour.

“We will be cleaning the screen to remove this build up of debris, and inspecting both the screen and the outfall flap-valve to ensure they are working correctly."

He went on to explain that storm water overflows have to comply with strict European legislation and their design and operation is regulated by the Environment Agency through permits, with any impact of the diluted storm water being shortlived.

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He added: "Falmouth Harbour is not a designated bathing water. The water quality is not routinely tested and no water quality standards apply to the harbour.

“We would encourage members of the public who see something they think may be sewage pollution to contact us as soon as possible on 0344 346 2020 so that we can investigate.

“We take reports of pollution incidents seriously and will look to investigate within two hours to ensure any impact on the environment is minimised.”

The spokesperson added that any signage at Falmouth harbour, for example to notify people of the outflow - as suggested by the reader - would be the responsibility of the harbour authority and South West Water would be happy to work with them on any signage they proposed, if appropriate.