A little corner of England has been left reeling today, just days after being named as the area with the most Blue Flag Awards for clean beaches in the UK, as the local Water Authority have dumped raw sewage directly into the sea. The area of Thanet in Kent is well known for its golden sandy beaches and this news has sent a shockwave running through the community just one day before the start of the Bank Holiday weekend.
Even more embarrassing for Southern Water, the body charged with keeping the bathing waters clean, is that this is not the first time this has happened. Less than a year ago, back in August 2013 the company were fined £200 000 for discharging sewage into the sea for a total of 145 hours. There was even an episode on another Bank Holiday weekend back in 2011 when untreated sewage was again released during Easter.
Admittedly, the Thanet area was deluged by a big storm overnight with nearly a months worth of rain in a just a few hours and this has undoubtedly lead to the discharge, but Thanet residents, beach users, Surfers and Swimmers have just about had enough. Some comments we have seen on online forums are of people wondering how this can happen days after the Blue Flag Awards were dished out with such fanfare and others talking about a mass campaign to petition Southern Water and the refusal to pay water bills.
The Southern Water website doesn’t offer any apologies or any clue to why this has happened again, in fact the “latest news” section of their website just seems to highlight Southern Waters “Good News” and serves only for self promotion.
It is heartbreaking to see the famous Kent beaches today littered with sanitary towels and condoms and signs on the beach advising people not to venture beyond the high tide mark. The seven beaches affected are Joss, Viking, Kingsgate, Stone Bay, Walpole Bay, Botany Bay and Palm Bay and there is no news on when Southern Water and the Environment Agency expect to declare the beaches safe to use again.
Joss Bay Surf School who operate from one of the soiled beaches had to cancel lessons for a local school today because of the contamination and we managed to grab a few words with the owner of the school Dave Melmoth. Dave told us that he felt very disappointed for the school children that had been let down by the sewage release and that the local treatment facility at Foreness Point is unfit for purpose and without serious investment the problem will remain, there seems be a total lack of accountability and a disregard for the welfare of all water users.
As a local Surfer I have to agree.
The above picture was taken by Dave this morning at his place of work, and there really is no excuse for this in 2014. None of our beaches should be seeing detritus and pollution like this washing ashore, and certainly not at the incompetence of a multi million pound company such as Southern Water. We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter and any suggestions on how we can make Southern Water clean up their act?