Monday, December 12, 2011

Sewage on Swanage beach


Posting this partly to raise awareness of this threat to Swanage‘s greatest asset (the beach), but also as a health warning to beach users.
Raw sewage is being discharged at Swanage beach currently (0930hrs 12/12/11)

There is an incredible stench along the seafront near the banjo pier, making standing on the prom unpleasant at best, and frequently impossible. Standing at the end of the banjo peir had me wretching.

There is also a swimmer in the sea, and surfers preparing to go in. I have chosen not to risk going in the sea today.

Given that there have been no adverse weather condition (flash flooding), discharging sewage at this location is entirely unacceptable.

The public have a right to access this water, use the beach, and walk along the seafront, and this event has taken that right away. Meanwhile Wessex Water are still billing us for sewage treatment.

If you experience sewage at Swanage if should be reported to the Environment Agency who will investigate it. Here is a handy link showing you what to do....

Swanage's great asset should not be turned into a soup of health threatening shit.

Posted by Charlie The Bikemonger to swanageview at 12/12/11 11:04 AM


Anonymous said...

Hang on.

You can smell something but have you physicaly see anything?

Your lack of evidence is just as concerning as the thought of raw sewage being discharged on the beach.

Could you provide us with evidence, maybe a statement from the waterboard or a photo?

David Furmage said...

I smelt it too along with many other people this morning who walked along the seafront and saw lumps of crap surged out off the end of the jetty into the sea. Glad I never went in for a surf :(, so hoping tomorrow it will be better.

This is a problem that won't just wash away , the cso's systems needs to be brought up to date. Reported it too the lady in the tourist information and phoned up agency aswell.

Anonymous said...

If you can smell something, you probably dont need to see it. Its high time Wessex sorted this out and as many people as possible should contact them plus write to local press and MP. Thats the only way to get their attention and embarrass them into action

David Furmage said...

Well I reckon it's time Surfers Against Sewage pay our town a visit again . Last time they came down , Wessex water announced their plan to build the sewage works back in the 90's :) Good work then but the problem is still there on our beach :(

Charlie The Bikemonger said...


Its not big lumps of poo you need to worry about. Its the difused particles.

You would not recognise a Hepatitus bacteria if it swam up to you and kissed you on the lips.

Here is a list of things you can catch from sewage, its also a list of things you cant see:

Hepatitis A
Typhoid Fever
Paratyphoid Fever
Escherichia coli Diarrhea

Anonymous said...


A 'Blue Flag' Beach.

Anybody fancy a dip?

Anonymous said...

I have noticed a strong sewage type of smell at the bottom (no pun intended) of Victoria Avenue several times in the last few months. There does seem to be a problem round there but it may be the gullies or the storm drain. I don't know but whatever it is it needs sorting out.

David Furmage said...


CSO doesnt stand for Crap Spewing Out but it might as well. A CSO is a Combined Sewage Overflow drain andtheir purpose is to act as an emergency exit for raw sewage and rainwater if a sewage pumping station or treatment works is over capacity.

Without CSOs sewage could end up coming back out of our toilets so they are obviously a vital part of our sewerage infrastructure. However, all over the country we know they are used far too often to dispose of raw sewage rather than water companies treating the sewage, ensuring it is safe to discharge into our rivers and seas. In theory, CSOs should discharge 3 times a year, which we think would be a fair compromise, but they are often used significantly more than this.

The accompanying image to this article is evidence that this CSO has suffered a major discharge of raw sewage into a river that comes out into a popular surfing and bathing beach. We know that the CSO pictured here was clear the previous day so everything in this shot was just a few hours old. Some of the sanitary waste is so recent the packaging is in perfect condition and the cotton on the cotton bud sticks still has wax on it! Who puts this stuff down the toilet still? Think before you flush!

We only have small team and we cant physically check every CSO in the country after rain (there are over 22,000 CSOs in the UK) but you can help. To find out if a CSO impacts on your local surf spot or bathing water, google the Environment Agencys Whats in my back yard and look up water quality. Once you know where it is you can investigate after heavy rain, giving you an idea of what you are exposing your self to before the first duck dive.

If you see signs of a sewage spill call the Environment Agency (EA) pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60 and the SAS pollution hotline on 01872 555 950. Well help chase the EA with you.

The Postman said...

I contacted Wessex Water to enquire why there was no link to see recorded CSOs on their website, and received the following response, which may be of interest:

"Thank you for your e-mail.

Our 'online CSO tool' providing information on overflow spills throughout the Wessex Water region is not broken, it is just offline outside the bathing season (May to September). The tool was trialled during the 2011 bathing season as a voluntary initiative to provide useful information to the public on assets which were identified as potentially affecting bathing water quality if they were to spill.

It was always our intention to trial this system through the bathing season and not to extend the trial beyond September. There are a number of reasons for this decision. This was a voluntary trial which about 6 other water companies also undertook to varying degrees this summer. We are currently in the process of discussing these trials with the other water companies and users to understand how the systems were used, their usability and to understand what improvements can be made to the system so that it is more effective next year. We are also holding similar discussions with local councils who received direct e-mail notification of these spills.

We are intending to post some summary information on the trial and the number of spills recorded as part of the trial, in addition to feedback from users and hit rates. This information is currently being prepared and will be published very soon.

Over this winter, we are undertaking some changes to the system which include: increasing the number of sites reported, providing real time notification and basically looking to provide better information to the public and users of this service. The system will go live in time for the 2012 bathing season.

I have provided the information relating to the two overflows which we monitored in Swange this bathing season:

•Shore Road:
–16th June (start time) 16:55 - 17:47 (end time)
–17th June 07:08 - 07:18

18th August 09:12 - 13:05
11th September 00:57 - 02:14

•Marine Parade:
18th August 10:00 - 10:07

All of these spills coincided with wet weather and are in accordance with the consent conditions.

Anonymous said...

I've experienced the smell on a number of occasions, but I've always put it down to rotting seaweed trapped in the end of the banjo jetty

David Furmage said...

Some good info there postman. Thou the fact there were more than the 3 discharges this summer is a bit concerning.

CSOs should be designed to discharge sewage only under extreme weather conditions, and for a maximum of 3 times a bathing season (May 15th – September 30th).  However 9 of the beaches featured in SAS’s Sewage Alert Service had at least 9 raw sewage discharges and 2 beaches register 16 discharges. 

The most frequent raw sewage discharges were at:
16 Bournemouth Pier
16 Poole Shore Road
13 Bude Summerleaze
13 Meadfoot

13 Saltburn
13 Christchurch Mudeford Sandbanks
10 Clevedon
9 Salcombe South Sands
9 Crantock 
8 Swanage Central

And tis a shame the text system does not go on all year round. This would be great help to us who use the water all year round.

Charlie the bikemonger said...

"bathing season" a self imposed hypothetical period of convenience for Wessex water that has no relation to when people use the sea.

I understand the term "skiing season" because people don't ski when there is no snow. But people use the sea all year round.

September to May (Wessex water NON bathing season) is the surfing season. It's when the south coast gets waves.

I have also received the same copy and paste reply from Wessex water. You don't need to turn off a text alert system to upgrade it.... But if your objective is to conceal the truth from the public, then turning it off fits the bill.

The list dave furmage printed is the list of beaches with the MOST discharges. Swanage made the top ten. Bournemouth and Poole are "top of the plops". And Wessex water look very bad.

Charlie the bikemonger said...

Hold on.... In the postmans email Wessex water detailed five discharges in swanage during their bathing season.

However they recorded EIGHT text alert discharges with Sas.

"all were within consent" says Wessex water.

But it there were 8 which is what Wessex water told SAS , then one of those location would have exceeded the three allowable discharge quotes, therefore they could have been beyond the rules of consent.

something smells shitty here?

Blue flags don't seem appropriate, they create a false sense of safety, and simply mislead the public. I bet the blue flag flew proudly over swanage bay on the five or eight discharge days..... Swanage should be a BROWN FLAG BEACH

David Furmage said...

Haha the idea has been put forward to SAS to do their own award. And it's the brown flag award;)