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Southern Water and Environment Agency urge people not to enter sea between Whitstable and Herne Bay


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Swimmers are being urged not to enter the sea along a stretch of the Kent coast after a number of leaks from the sewerage network.

It has been confirmed that there have been releases off Herne Bay, Whitstable, Tankerton and Swalecliffe, following a thunderstorm this morning.

People are being advised not to enter the water between Herne Bay and Whitstable
People are being advised not to enter the water between Herne Bay and Whitstable

Statistics show the series of Southern Water discharges from its combined sewer overflows (CSOs) began at about 6am and lasted for several hours.

And now the firm, along with the Environment Agency, is urging visitors to the coast not to enter the sea over the next day.

Canterbury City Council spokesman Leo Whitlock said: "We share in everyone’s frustration, especially in light of recent events.

“Both the Environment Agency and Southern Water are warning swimmers to avoid the area from Whitstable to Herne Bay for the next 24 hours, which has become disappointingly normal after heavy rain.

"We continue to monitor the situation closely and to push Southern Water to do all it can to minimise the effects of its operation on our coastline."

Do-not-swim signs were left in Tankerton after a pollution release at the Southern Water treatment site in Swalecliffe earlier this month
Do-not-swim signs were left in Tankerton after a pollution release at the Southern Water treatment site in Swalecliffe earlier this month

Southern Water's website says its CSOs do not release raw sewage. Instead, it stresses that rain and wastewater - which is "mainly from washing machines, showers and dishwashers" - are discharged.

This comes after a similar warning was issued to swimmers in both towns just two weeks ago, after an electrical fault caused a major leak from a Southern Water sewage treatment works in Swalecliffe.

At the time, the city council urged people not to go for a dip between Tankerton and Herne Bay, after a four-hour discharge.

And last month, Southern Water was slapped with a record £90 million fine for unleashing up to 21 billion litres of sewage into protected water.

Mr Whitlock added: "While we continue to lobby Southern Water and the EA, it is the EA that has the power to take action against Southern Water.’

"We are also working with Southern Water and the EA to improve messaging on all of our websites for beach users."

Southern Water's treatment works in Swalecliffe
Southern Water's treatment works in Swalecliffe

A Southern Water spokesman said today: "What has happened today is as a result of heavy rainfall in a very short period of time.

"CSOs are an integral part of the processes designed to manage wastewater nationwide. Their use in times of heavy rainfall is designed to minimise the risk of internal flooding to homes and businesses.

"Their use is closely regulated by the Environment Agency.

"We will carry out a full investigation to understand what, in addition to the extreme weather, may have contributed to the flooding our customers have experienced."

The deluge this morning also left parts of Herne Bay underwater.

Ice cream parlour Scoops in Central Parade is set to be closed for the next two days after its basement was flooded, ruining much of its stock.

Meanwhile, parts of Sea Street and Station Road were also submerged.

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable

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