I received the following update from the council’s chief executive on the sewage leak situation earlier today, which may help to give some idea of the council’s take on the situation.
The facts are:
* A significant part of the main sewage system in Thanet operates
mainly under gravity down to the pumping station at Foreness and then
gets pumped to the Weatherlees sewage treatment plant in Ramsgate where
it is treated. The treated sewage is then pumped back up a parallel pipe
to Foreness and through the long outfall pipe into the sea.
* Southern Water had 2 of the 4 pumps fail at Foreness, which combined
with the rain meant that the facility overflowed untreated sewage into
the sea. The main incident of this was from the early hours of Sunday
morning to mid-afternoon which has led to the sewage in the sea and back
onto the coast. There was also damage to the screening plant at Foreness
that meant that the pumps had to be turned off regularly to be cleared,
which compounded the problem.
* There are now 3 pumps operational and in addition they had 5 tankers
for overpumping there yesterday.
* This main incident is not related to the large number of overflows
that exist around the coast that can on occasions overflow and can
impact on water quality.
* Overall the water quality last year was excellent across the season
resulting in 9 blue flags and 1 quality coast award which put us back at
the top of the chart again.
It is Southern Water's responsibility to put measures in place to
prevent the system from failing. The Enviroment Agency were working on
this last year with them and this continues.
The Council has a role in providing advice and guidance and for posting
notices of failure. However, this can only be timely if we are alerted
of the failure in good time. We always act promptly on receiving notice
of failure and sewerage contamination and did so on this occasion.
We erected signs and used the RNLI staff to try and prevent access to
the sea as much as possible, which is still carrying on. We are waiting
for further test results from EA (due today) to see if we can open the
beaches, but need to be absolutely certain that it is appropriate to do
so and that we are not going to get a recurrence. The Award Flags have
been taken down for the time being.
I trust this answers your points,
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District CouncilCouncil Offices, Cecil Street, Margate, Thanet CT9 1X