A number of local beaches have received a pollution risk alert today (May 9), according to the Surfers Against Sewage ‘safer seas and Rivers’ app. 

The app tracks real-time sewage discharge and pollution risk alerts around the UK.

There are three types of alert; CSO (Combined sewer overflow) alert which is a sewage pollution alert meaning that storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer over in this location within the last 48 hours, Pollution Risk forecast which means that bathing is not advised that day due to the likelihood of reduced water quality and lastly a Pollution Incident alert which means that bathing is not advised that day due to a pollution incident. 

Beaches with alerts today: 

  • Widemouth sand - Sewage Pollution alert 
  • Westward Ho! - Sewage Pollution alert 

Water pollution can arise from various sources such as agricultural runoff, industrial waste, and litter. However, the primary reason for contamination in waterways is due to combined sewer overflows. In the UK, most sewage systems are designed to handle both sewage and surface runoff, making them ‘combined’. During heavy rainfall, the treatment plant can become overwhelmed, so is bypassed and the raw effluent is released via combined sewer overflows. 

While the use of combined sewer overflows prevents sewage backup into households, the discharged sewage has to go somewhere, and therefore into the environment. Although the effluent is diluted, it remains untreated and can pose a risk to health.