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Beaches reopened after sewage leak

Popular Joss Bay near Margate was among the beaches affected Photo: ITV Meridian

Restrictions on bathing at beaches in Thanet have been lifted following a leak of sewage into the sea.

The restrictions had been put into place after a mechanical failure at Southern Water's sewage pumping station at Foreness Point allowed untreated sewage to be discharged off the coast.

Results from tests by the Environment Agency have confirmed that water quality has now returned to safe levels.

Southern Water has also given Thanet council assurances about the future operation of the pumping station.

Signs had been put up across Thanet's beaches warning visitors not to venture into the water. Those signs will now be removed.

A number of businesses say they will be seeking compensation from the water company for loss of earnings caused by the scare.

Cleansing teams from Thanet Council and Southern Water will continue to monitor the coastline to ensure the bays are kept clean of any further debris.

Southern Water will also be removing seaweed from the bays as part of the clean-up operation.

Untreated sewage was discharged out to sea Credit: ITV Meridian

Mark Seed, the council’s Director of Operations: “The lifting on of the bathing ban is excellent news, and I’m pleased that we’ve made such rapid progress this week.

“As an area that thrives on tourism, preventing people from swimming in the sea off our coast is something we would rather avoid. However we have a duty of care to members of the public, and couldn’t lift the bathing ban until we received assurances from the Environment Agency and Southern Water.

“Naturally, we’ll continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis, but we feel confident that this matter is drawing to a positive conclusion. Once again, I’d like to thank all those involved in the clean-up operation – their work has been incredible.

"I’d also like to thank members of the public for their on-going patience, understanding, and co-operation.”

The council says it has been given a number of assurances about the management of the sewage pumping station and future communication with the council.

This was following an urgent meeting called by the council last week with senior officials from Southern Water.

Red flags were raised to stop people bathing in the sea Credit: ITV Meridian