look: ‘Sewage pumped into the sea’ turns idyllic Cornwall cove brown in dramatic footage described as ‘shocking’
Video footage has been captured appearing to show a large amount of raw sewage being pumped into sea water at a scenic Cornish beach, in the latest incident to impact the UK coast.
Sunday’s discharge occurred at St Agnes beach on the county’s north coast after a storm overflow was triggered.
The dramatic footage – showing the water changing from turquoise to brown, which the water company said was partly caused by mud in the water – was filmed by local surfer Nick Jones, who told Sky News that he was shocked by what he saw.
“I had just returned from walking the dogs. Sadly, this is a story that is happening more and more frequently. I am gutted for so many different reasons. The environment, the water users, the sea life. The repercussions are endless.”
A number of new beach pollution alerts, mostly in the South West, have been issued by the Surfers Against Sewage charity.
Its campaign and policy manager, Amy Slack, says the damage caused by water companies is clear.
“It’s obvious to all of us. Sewage pollution is being pumped onto one of our beautiful beaches in Cornwall. It’s shocking when you see these images. We’re seeing more and more evidence of this coming to light.
“We saw 370,000 wastewater discharges into our rivers and seas in 2021. That’s 2.6 million hours of wastewater discharged into some of our most beautiful and expensive blue spaces,” he said. she added.
Ms Slack said the charity is seeing more and more people falling ill after swimming in polluted waters.
“People are getting sick,” she added. “Gastroenteritis, stomach aches, ear, nose and throat infections, eye infections; sometimes people are hospitalized due to illnesses they catch from entering the water. This has a huge impact not only on the environment, but also on our human health.”
There have been a number of sewer incidents this year, and in August the government announced a crackdown on water companies, including a target to improve all storm overflows flowing into or at proximity to designated bathing waters by 2035.
Ms Slack said: “We have seen decades of underinvestment in our sewage infrastructure. The water industry is now essentially allowed to self-police. We have seen this problem get worse and worse. more. We need to see a decade of real ambition and investment in our sanitation infrastructure.”
A spokesperson for South West Water, responsible for operating water services in the area, told Sky News: “While the storm overflow in St Agnes kicked in briefly on Sunday (October 30) following heavy rain, this was a short-lived spill and is unlikely to have caused the level of discoloration shown in the video.
Huge rise in raw sewage discharged into UK waterways and sea, data reveals
Government’s new plan to crack down on sewage discharge is branded a ‘cruel joke’
Southern Water and Thames Water bosses admit ‘unacceptable’ performance amid anger
“On this occasion, we believe other factors contributed to the discoloration, such as mud in the water dislodged by heavy rains that poured into the area from a nearby stream and runoff from farmland. .
“We continue to increase infrastructure investment in the region as part of our ongoing commitment to protect and enhance the natural environment.
“This year, the Southwest has experienced the dramatic changes in weather patterns exhibited by climate change, as demonstrated in August when the region was declared drought-prone. Thanks to these changes, we are now experiencing more extremes than ever before and this year the South West experienced one of the driest and hottest years on record.
“In addition to prolonged periods of extremely hot weather, we have seen localized heavy rainfall that has been unable to infiltrate the dry ground, meaning significant volumes are pouring into our system, which can cause the triggering of our storm overflows.”