'Nasty' and 'brown' sea foam pollution in Cornwall frustrating swimmers at Bude Sea Pool

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

People who use a sea pool in north Cornwall say they are frustrated with pollution making the water unsafe to swim in.

Hundreds of people on social media were shocked by photos of brown sea foam gathering in a large part of the sea pool on December 29.

Friends of Bude Sea pool warned people not to enter the water as recent sewage releases further up the coastline at Widemouth Bay could have contaminated it.

James Marshall swims regularly at the pool and says the build up of foam was the worst he had seen "for a long, long time".

He said a temporary fault with the Summerleaze storm overflow alerts also meant there was "no up to date way of finding out whether it has been a sewage release upstream."

"We are just in the lap of the gods as to whether you risk a dip or not."

Regular swimmers say people have had "been sick" after swimming in polluted waters Credit: ITV News

Fay Hargreaves, operations manager for Friends of Bude Sea Pool, says it is not the first time they have had a risk of people being made unwell by pollution in the sea.

"We think it happens about 12 times a year," she said.

Speaking about the storm overflows, Fay said: "We know that [South West Water] are allowed to, but that still doesn't make it right."

South West Water says it believes the photos show a build up of algae sea foam created by the recent stormy weather conditions and are "not directly linked to the operation of the storm overflow network".

More than 5,000 incidents of sewage pollution was recorded in England and Wales last year and pressure is building on the government to stop water companies from using storm overflow drains.

Bude Sea Pool was created in the 1930s to provide a haven for safe swimming. Credit: ITV News

Scott Mann, MP for North Cornwall, says the November 2021 Environment Act gives water companies a reasonable amount of time to make changes to their sewage systems.

"The water management plans have to be implemented within five years but MPs will certainly be be asking water companies to come forward with plans quicker than that."

He went on to say he will be asking South West Water to make Bude a priority area to trial their new sewage system because of the increasing number of second homes and pressure on the sewage system.

What South West Water has said

A spokesperson told ITV News: "We care deeply about water quality right across our region and having invested more than £9billion to improve the region’s water and wastewater infrastructure over the last 30 years, our analysis shows we have some of the best waters in Europe, this year achieving the highest ever bathing water quality at 100% across the South West.

"We have further investment planned to maintain and improve water quality, increase monitoring and further reduce usage of storm overflows.”