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South West Water fined after repeat sewage spill

Ordering the company to pay more than £60,000, a district judge said South West Water did not heed the Environment Agency’s warnings and guidance after a similar incident in 2012.

Sewage spilled from a manhole on South Sands Beach on 13 April 2017. A sand dam had been built around the manhole by children playing nearby.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “Water companies must carry out regular inspections and maintenance of their sewerage infrastructure and respond urgently to leaks, especially at beaches.

“On this occasion, raw sewage leaked directly onto one of Devon’s most popular beaches over a busy Bank Holiday. There was a very real risk of sewage harming children nearby and contaminating the bathing water.

“The Environment Agency tests water quality at every official bathing water to ensure it is maintained and improved and we are committed to working with water companies, councils and local communities to keep our beaches clean, reduce pollution and protect the environment.”

The court heard the manhole and sewer pipes at South Sands are covered at high tide, which makes access and maintenance difficult. The blockage was blamed on sand entering the sewer network from homes, possibly from washing down wetsuits and beachwear. Sand was also the cause of an eight-day blockage in August 2012.

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Sewage leaking from the manhole at South Sands Beach

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