Seawater Concerns

Following heavy rain there can be raw sewage discharge from Southern Water Sewage Treatment Centres so it is adviseable to avoid going into the seawater for the next 48 hours. Watersports' users constantly complain to the Council, our Councillors and Southern Water that the general public are not advised as soon as discharges take place. Given that Hayling's is a Blue Flag Beach that the Council manages and we are still in the summer season, having experienced particularly high visitor numbers to our beaches, it would seem reasonable to expect HBC to do everything it can to promptly advise beach users. This is, after all, a matter of public health.

The following is Chronology supplied by Mike Owens and sent in a fuller email from him on August 19th to Cllr. Hughes:

  • On the morning of Friday 14th Aug 2020 Southern Water released 3.5 hours of faeces-laden sewage from the harbour entrance just a short distance from a blue flag beach on Hayling Island.

  • The following day there were reports of wet wipes and soiled toilet tissue on the high tide mark of the harbour entrance

  • Over the weekend there were reports of odour and sick people and pets

  • Over the weekend there were a number of intense rain storm events that would have expected to generate sewage discharges,

  • Concerned about water quality given the expectation of discharges I organised a blue flag water quality test (identical to the EA test) at noon on Monday 17th

  • Yet on Monday 17th at 3pm there were still no sign of any stormwater discharges from Southern Water. Nor were there any Southern Water Beachbouy notifications until the 19th August

Since we have had intense rain events for the past two days and finally we have some Southern water notifications. I have organised independent blue flag tests for the 18th and 19th August.

  • over 3 days after the pollution event the water quality measured 890 cfu/100ml. That's 3 days of microbiological decay, 3 days of (albeit limited) UV disinfection from the sun and 3 days of dilution due to 7 tidal cycles diluting around the English channel and the Eastern Solent and 3 days after the event it was still 890 cfu/100ml. The water quality must have been of biblical proportions on the afternoon of the 14th Aug 2020

  • To put this result into context we normally expect seawater at the Inn on the Beach (the EA test site) to be <10 cfu/100ml and this spot check shows this to be at 890 cfu/100ml. Now, Jonathan Driver [expert] will tell you there is some statistical mathematics to perform on this number which will reduce it a little but it will be still well into the poor category and it will have been that way for over 3 days with Haylings visitors enjoying the (apparently) clean and "excellent" water quality.

Mike asked for warning notices to be put up at West/Central Beachland with sufficient information for bathers to make informed decisions, plus posts on HBC social channels and website should have the same warning.

Cllr. Hughes replied:

"I believe it is solely the responsibility of Southern Water to properly inform the public. Any information promulgated by HBC provided by Southern Water directly or relaying Beachbuoy data will be even older and potentially less relevant. I would contend that what you want HBC to do is the responsibility of Southern Water. I intend to ask our Comms team how many ‘hits’ does our ‘Beach Safety’ page get on our website."

On 20th August another watersports user similarly complained to all Hayling Councillors asking for their 'influence on Southern Water' in order to establish an effective alert system which is long overdue.

If you have similar concerns please do let the following know: your Councillors, alan.mak.mp@parliament.uk (Alan convened an April meeting when SW was tasked to provide timely alerts), and Southern Water's tom.gallagher@southernwater.co.uk, customerservices@southernwater.co.uk . Please do let me know if you have any constructive responses to pass on!

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