Friday, 8 June 2012

Update on the sewage leak situation.

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.

Dear Michael,

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,


Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council
Council Offices, Cecil Street, Margate, Thanet CT9 1X  


  1. And yet the Southern Water bosses will still get their bonuses.

  2. And yet the Southern Water bosses will still get their bonuses.

  3. I like the bit which says that the Environment Agency was working with them LAST YEAR to try to prevent overspills and that this continues. Just how long does the Environment Agency need to do its job properly and why did they sanction the design of this sewage pumping station if it is fundamentally flawed? The letter states that 5 tankers were there yesterday for overpumping. Perhaps the Environment Agency should insist that 5 tankers are there every day until the defective plant is modified. Then something might get done. Maybe 5 tankers should have been there on the day the pumps failed. In my opinion, the Environment Agency, for which we pay from our taxes, has failed us big time and should be called to account.

  4. Things like this happen. There's no point in pointing the finger and playing the blame game. Just learn from the mistakes and make sure they don't happen again.

    1. But it will happen again - the consent says so!

      I have dealt with all parties and i can safely say this "they cannot be trusted, care to say there should be no finger pointing?

      The thing is their are a lot of armchair warriors in Thanet but very few go out and do anything about it.

      The real Malcolm


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