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Sewage on the beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

Now it turns out sewage checks aren’t working at these popular beach destinations

Water companies aren’t monitoring leakages and discharges like they’re supposed to

Written by
Faima Bakar
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If you headed to the beach last week to soak up the sunshine, you may have been turned away – depending on which part of the country you were visiting. That’s because beaches in East Sussex, Kent and Cornwall were closed due to sewage that had been pumped into the sea.

This has been happening as water companies are accused of failing to monitor untreated wastewater at popular British seaside resorts. These include Littlehampton in West Sussex and Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire, which have bathing water status, plus swathes of Devon, Cornwall and other areas presided over by 11 different water companies.

Data analysed by the Liberal Democrats found that ‘90 percent of the time’, sewage monitoring devices hadn’t been installed or did not work properly. They said that a quarter of sewage discharges had gone unmonitored last year, due to these faults or a lack of monitors. 

According to the Environmental Agency, the water company with the highest percentage of monitors not installed or working properly was Anglian Water (49 percent) followed by South West (31 percent) – the provider for Devon and Cornwall – and Severn Trent Water (29 percent).

Here are the figures for all 11 water companies affected:

Anglian – 49 percent
South West – 31 percent
Severn Trent – 29 percent
Total – 24 percent
Wessex – 22 percent
Northumbrian – 21 percent
Yorkshire – 18 percent
United Utilities – 15 percent
Welsh Water (England) – 14 percent
Southern – 14 percent
Thames – 10 percent

ICYMI: this frightening interactive map shows the most polluted beaches in the UK.

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