Pollution warnings issued for popular Teesside beaches urging people to avoid getting into the water

  • Our correspondent Rachel Bullock identifies the affected areas on our coastline

Pollution warnings have been issued for some of Teesside's most popular beaches with people advised not to swim in the sea.

Visitors to Seaton Carew, Saltburn and Marske Sands have been advised to avoid the water because of high pollution levels.

Water quality is affected by "storm sewage", according to an interactive water quality map by Safer Seas Service.

Eight locations have now been identified, some of the affected areas reaching as far north as Spittal Beach in Berwick, Northumberland.

The campaign group Surfers against Sewage also reported that in the last 48 hours, sewage has been discharged from a storm overflow pipe at Marske.

Last year, the government voted against blocking up the overflow pipes meaning water companies could continue using them during heavy rain to avoid sewage backing up into residential properties.

A spokesperson for Northumbrian Water said: “During heavy rainfall, all water companies use storm overflows which act as a relief valve on the sewer network to protect the homes of customers and the environment from sewer flooding.

"Such discharges happen with permission from the Environment Agency and are mostly rainwater with a small percentage of wastewater that have come together because they use the same sewer network.

"In the last Bathing Water classifications released by DEFRA, 32 of the North East’s 34 designated bathing waters achieved ratings of either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ – the highest possible classifications.

"We have invested heavily in upgrades to our wastewater network in the last two decades and beyond, which have played an important part in these results, and we continue to do so.

"More than £80 million of investment is targeted towards improvements related to storm overflows in our current 2020-25 operating period.”

Water quality is affected by "storm sewage" at Saltburn, according to Safer Seas Service Credit: PA

In a statement last week, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "The Environment Agency makes a daily pollution risk forecast at this site based on the effects of rain, wind, sunlight and seasonality on bathing water quality.

"These factors affect the levels of bacteria that get washed into the sea from livestock, sewage and urban drainage via rivers and streams and how they disperse.

"When these factors combine to make short-term pollution likely we issue a pollution risk warning and the beach manager will display a sign advising against bathing at the bathing water.

"After a short-term pollution event, levels of bacteria typically return to normal after a day or so but it’s possible to have several warning days in a row."

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