Response to Surfers Against Sewage Report

“We are fortunate enough to serve an outstandingly beautiful region. With more than 700 miles of coastline, 58 of our 83 beaches are rated as excellent for water quality and none fall below the acceptable standard.

"In addition to our statutory disclosures to our regulators, we run a voluntary notification scheme called Beachbuoy.

An improved service is being finalised in consultation with stakeholder groups including Surfers Against Sewage. The new service uses improved software engineering combined with enhanced monitoring at our sites to speed the process of notification and reduce false positives.

The introduction of the system has had teething problems – we believe that the software to prevent false positives was not operating correctly. Our software development teams have continued to refine the engineering over the summer.

However in previous years notifications were sent out for all activations – meaning that many were false positives.

During the last stakeholder workshop, we announced that the new system will provide notifications 365 days a year. Storm releases are not classed as pollution but each release of rain run off and heavily diluted wastewater prevents the misery of internal flooding for our customers.”


Notes for Background

- Storm overflows are clearly an emotive issue. While they play an important role in preventing people’s homes flooding during heavy rainfall – we recognise the strength of public concern about their use
- We’re investing £1.7bn over 2020-25 to improve capacity and capability of our wastewater network
- Work to improve storm overflow management includes:
o duration monitoring at 465 sites (£5.5m) already installed, with a further 497 (£5.5m) being installed this AMP
o Flow management at WWTW – we invested £13m last AMP to address risk to storm overflow at 29 sites and are investing a further £13m this AMP to address 36 sites

Detecting releases is a difficult process – no single piece of data on its own can confirm if one is occurring and different pieces of telemetry must be compared. In the past this meant a great deal of human intervention to prevent false positives slowing the system down.