SWIMMERS were advised to avoid Bude Sea Pool for a few days last week following a suspected sewage leak.

However, South West Water says the precautionary notices at Summerleaze and Widemouth Sand were only issued following permitted stormwater overflows.

Bude Sea Pool posted the following message to Facebook: “Probably a good idea to stay out of the water for a couple of days, there has been a sewage discharge at Widemouth too.”

Surfers Against Sewage issued their own pollution alert for Widemouth Sand. They said: “Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.”

Adding: “A sewer overflow discharges 270m upstream that flows to the sea across Widemouth Bay. Bathing water quality can also be affected by other discharges from the surrounding urban area.”

They also confirm that the sewer systems at Summerleave are “under maintenance and the water company has temporarily disabled real-time alerts.”

They add: “There are four sewer overflows that discharge into the River Strat before crossing Bude Summerleaze to reach the sea. Other discharges from the urban catchment may also flow into the river upstream of the beach.”

However, it has been reported that the Summerleaze Beach release notification system was out of order at the time so a sewage leak could not be confirmed.

Fay Hargreaves from the Friends of Bude Sea Pool said: “What we do know that as a town, Summerleaze Beach release notifications is currently out of order, which means that we can only rely on what we see.

“Mostly the brown foam found on our beaches is from run-off from the fields in the valley, which happens during periods of heavy rainfall. This then goes down the river and canal into the sea coming back into the bay and the pool. This is then diluted over a couple of days with high tides. What also happens is that South West Water take this opportunity to release their gates at the same time. 

“This is not just something that happens in Bude or Cornwall but all over the UK, also into fresh water rivers. This is something that was picked up over this year and a huge amount of people have been protesting about to Government as it is a big environmental issue affecting more than tourism, but wildlife too.  

“MP Scott Mann has been messaged many times about this by many swimmers, local and visitors, and this is something that Surfers Against Sewage have been protesting about for many years, with no joy.

“The local community are also aware that South West Water have ancient pipework here in Bude which exacerbates the issues, but despite many an outcry nothing seems to get done, but more new houses keep being built adding to the poor situation.”

In response, a South West Water spokesperson said: “South West Water’s bathing water information service, BeachLive, provides free alerts for beaches in Devon and Cornwall when stormwater overflows may temporarily affect bathing water quality. During periods of heavy rain, storm overflows perform a necessary and very important job by acting as legal safety valves to prevent sewers from becoming overloaded and to avoid sewage backing up and flooding into homes, roads and businesses. Precautionary notices were raised at Summerleaze and Widemouth Sand on Wednesday morning following permitted stormwater overflows which were removed later that day as there were no further discharges.”