Warning 'not to enter sea' along Kent coast extended after sewage leak

People are being advised not to swim in the sea along a stretch of the Kent coastline Credit: ITV News Meridian

People continue to be advised not to go into the sea along a stretch of coastline in Kent following a "pollution incident".

Canterbury City Council alerted swimmers on Saturday (7 August) not to enter the water from Tankerton to Studd Hill after a system fault at Southern Water's Swalecliffe Treatment Works resulted in wastewater overflowing and entering a nearby brook.

The overflow happened from 3.03pm to 7.19pm on Friday (6 August).

Southern Water says systems are now back "under control" and that a fix is being carried out at the treatment works.

However Canterbury City Council says its advice will not be lifted until it is "completely satisfied that the sea is safe", extending the warning to include Herne Bay.

Councillor Neil Baker, Canterbury City Council, Conservative said: "It's unacceptable. Our job as a council is to advise people not to go into the water.

"We can't unfortunately hold Southern Water to account, that's for others, that's for the Environment Agency.

"We have a very strong open water swimming community here, they are growing frustrated.

"It is not right, you live by the sea you should be able to enjoy the sea, people have been robbed of that for the past weekend."

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We are investigating the release of sewage into coastal waters between Whitstable and Herne Bay.

"Our team is assessing the impact of the incident on the area.

"We have advised against swimming between Whitstable and Herne Bay today. We encourage anyone planning to take to the water this summer to first check the Swimfo website for current information on designated bathing waters."

  • Jean-Paul Collett, Customer Resolution Manager, Southern Water

Southern Water says teams were on site "at first light" on Saturday to carry out beach walks at Herne Bay, Tankerton and West Beach, where "minimal signs" of any waste were found.

Red flags were still in place at Tankerton beach on Monday morning Credit: ITV News Meridian

A spokesperson said: "Following the electrical fault at our pumping station near to our Swalecliffe wastewater treatment works, we have undertaken regular monitoring and sampling of the entire water course from pumping station all the way to the sea.

"The latest samples from the brook confirm water quality is normal and we will continue to maintain extra specialist resources at the site.

"We notified the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Local Authority yesterday and will continue to work with them and our stakeholders in the coming days to assess and mitigate against any impact to the environment.  Ofwat and Defra have also been informed of the incident.

"Southern Water is committed to protecting the environment and part of this is being fully transparent about how we operate. No pollution is acceptable to us and we believe it is important that our customers are always fully informed. We will continue to strive to do better."

Anyone witnessing pollution of the environment is asked to contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.