People told not to swim at Devon beaches after heavy rainfall causes sewage spills

Heavy shower budleigh salterton devon weather
Budleigh Salterton beach Credit: Emma Smith

People are being urged to avoid swimming at four popular Devon beaches because of a heightened risk of pollution.

The Environment Agency is advising people to keep clear of the water at Budleigh Salterton beach, Exmouth beach, Paington Sands, and Goodrington Sands.

The increased pollution risk is caused by heavy rainfall – there is currently a yellow weather warning in place across the South West for thunderstorms today (Wednesday 17 August).

According to Surfers Against Sewage, the following alerts are in place for each of the beaches.

Goodrington Sands Credit: Phil Shaw

Budleigh Salterton beach

Bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.

There are three sewer overflows in the area, one discharges directly onto the beach, another 400m east and another that discharges 1.3km away into the sea.

Exmouth beach

Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.

There is a sewer overflow discharging through an outfall to the south east which may affect bathing water quality especially after heavy rainfall.

Paignton Sands

There are two sewer overflows located on Paignton Sands - one at the southern end of the beach and another offshore of the harbour.

Goodrington Sands

There is one sewer overflow discharging directly onto the beach in the middle of Goodrington while another discharges 500m upstream in the Goodrington Stream that then meets the sea towards the southern end of the beach.

Today's pollution risk warnings are only believed to be in place temporarily during the storms.

Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth beaches both received 'Excellent' bathing water quality based on water samples taken from 2017 to 2021.

Paignton Sands and Goodrington Sands having been ranked as 'Good'.