Autumn Has Arrived. So Has The Sewage!

Following a very pleasant period of dry weather earlier in September the rains have arrived in North Cornwall.

Here is the Netweather.tv rain radar map from yesterday evening:

I suggested on Twitter that it would be prudent to consult the Surfer’s Against Sewage water quality map this morning. This is what it reveals:


Although not yet shown on the SAS map the Environment Agency’s bathing water quality map suggests not going surfing today at our local big beach break:

In related news here is this morning’s graph of the pound/dollar exchange rate:

It seems everything is going down the pan simultaneously here in Kernow, under the current Government in Westminster. Except bankers’ bonuses in the City of London of course! According to the Guardian:

The City watchdog is being urged to investigate whether leaks of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget allowed billionaire hedge fund investors to make “small fortunes” by betting against the pound.

Tulip Siddiq, the shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said the Financial Conduct Authority needed to determine whether it was possible for traders to have used insider information to benefit from the crashing currency.

The pound fell to an all-time low of $1.03 against the dollar overnight on Monday before recovering lost ground amid speculation that the Bank of England would raise interest rates to shore up the economy.

Perhaps we need our own currency here in Kernow? Bring back the dynar!

[Edit – October 3rd]

This news comes from the south coast of Cornwall, but according to their Facebook page the Gyllyngvase Surf Life Saving Club’s Endless Summer Swim event on Sunday was postponed for a week:

Unfortunately due to the deluge of rain yesterday, we have a sewage alert on the beach and with another wave of wet weather due for the morning, we have decided to postpone until next Sunday This year has felt like we’ve had constant alerts on the beach so please South West Water can you take responsibility and do something about it?

[Edit – October 22nd]

There’s been a fair bit of rain in these parts recently. Here’s the NetWeather.tv rain radar from yesterday morning for example:

Hence it doesn’t come as a big surprise that this morning several beaches on the North coast of Cornwall are yet again suffering sewage pollution according to the Surfers Against Sewage water quality map:

[Edit – October 28th]

After an all too brief respite from sewage pollution incidents along the coast of North Cornwall, this morning there has been a discharge at Widemouth Sand, our local big beach break:

There have also been incidents at Seaton and Millandreath on the south coast. Further south still, at Long Rock “sewer systems in this location are under maintenance and the water company has temporarily disabled real-time alerts”

[Edit – October 30th]

Widemouth Sand is clear again on the Surfers Against Sewage water quality map. However further west there are now several sewage pollution incidents along the north coast of Cornwall:

Some graphic videos of the pollution incident at St. Agnes have been posted on Twitter:

[Edit – November 1st]

After a very brief respite Widemouth Bay has suffered another sewage pollution incident:

So has St. Agnes:

[Edit – November 3rd]

There has been plenty of rain across Cornwall this week. Here’s the Met Office’s rain radar map at 4 PM yesterday:

Consequently there are now numerous sewage pollution incidents all round the coast:

The only good news locally is that Widemouth Bay is currently not red flagged, but at Summerleaze beach in Bude South West Water “has [still] temporarily disabled real-time alerts.”

Watch this space!

Drought for Cornwall later in 2022?

It seems as though summer has finally arrived here in North Cornwall. This is the Met Office weather forecast for the next week:

The Met Office has also issued a heat-health alert for the coming week, although it is seems unlikely that a “heat wave” will officially be declared in Cornwall:

Apart from the potential impact on human health, long periods of hot weather also mean reduced rainfall and increased demand for water. According to the BBC:

Continue reading “Drought for Cornwall later in 2022?”

Another North Cornwall Flood Alert

According to the United Kingdom Government’s “Check for Flooding” service, which is currently being beta tested:

Flood alert for Upper River Tamar

Flooding is possible – be prepared

This Flood Alert remains in force. Flooding is possible this afternoon and overnight into Thursday 30th December. Last night’s rain has caused river levels to rise and we expect these to remain high throughout the rest of today and into tomorrow morning. This may result in flooding to low lying land and roads close to rivers this afternoon and overnight into Thursday morning 30th December. However, flooding to properties is not currently expected. Take care near the areas of concern and monitor your local weather conditions. We are monitoring river levels and have staff in the area checking for and clearing blockages. This message will be updated on Thursday morning or earlier if the situation changes.

Flood alert area: Bude, Helebridge, Bridgerule, Canworthy Water, Launceston and Yeolmbridge

As is often the case at such times, the Surfers Against Sewage pollution map reveals metaphorical “red flags” at Widemouth Bay, Mawgan Porth and Fistral Beach in Newquay:



Flood Warnings for North Cornwall

In the aftermath of Storm Arwen a week ago the heavens have opened over Davidstow, and more strong winds are forecast:

Then of course there’s the flood alerts from the Government’s flooding service:

[Edit – December 4th]

Today’s strong onshore winds mean that flood warnings are still in place for this evening’s high tide. Meanwhile winter has officially arrived. There have been several showers of hail here in Davidstow this morning. Here’s one of the heavy showers on the radar rainfall (and hail!) map:

and here’s the hail itself!


As anticipated, following the recent rain several North Cornwall beaches are now “red flagged” on the Surfers Against Sewage pollution map:

Here is the Magic Seaweed surf forecast for Widemouth Bay for today:

and next week:

[Edit – December 7th]

Storm Barra has arrived and consequently it’s been very wet and windy in Davidstow this morning. The coast of North Cornwall is on flood alert at high tide once again.

At least we haven’t had a power cut yet. Unlike 10 days ago!

More Pollution on North Cornwall Beaches

Another downpour last night has resulted in all too familiar news this morning. Here’s the NetWeather.TV rain radar view of Cornwall at 9 PM last night:

Davidstow is under all that rain dropping cloud somewhere! This morning there are flood warnings in place for North Devon, and flood alerts across North Cornwall:

What’s more the Surfers Against Sewage map reveals that nearly all the beaches in North Cornwall also have water quality warnings in place:

The little low tide “beach” at Trebarwith Strand is currently clear, but Watergate Bay is not.

[Edit – October 26th]

Here is Baroness Jones from the Green Party explaining the problem on BBC Newsnight:

[Edit – October 28th]

The heavens have opened over North Cornwall yet again:

As a seemingly inevitable consequence flood alerts have now been issued for the middle and upper River Tamar, amongst other places:

P.S. The heavy rain has continued:

Flood warnings have now been issued for several rivers just over the border into Devon:

According to the Environment Agency: Flooding is expected. Act now!

A flood warning means you need to act: flooding is expected. You should do all the actions for a flood alert, but also:

  • move vehicles to higher ground if it’s safe to do so
  • move family and pets to safety
  • move important items upstairs or to a safe place in your property, starting with cherished items and valuables, then furniture and furnishings
  • turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if it’s safe to do so; never touch an electrical switch if you’re standing in water
  • if you have property protection products such as flood barriers, or air brick covers, use them now
  • keep track of the latest flood risk situation

[Edit – October 30th]

This seems to be the meat of the letter I received from Scott Mann MP a couple of days ago:

The facts are that we have a combined sewer system in this country, meaning rainwater and sewage both flow into it. This means that heavy rain and storms can lead to additional pressure on the system that needs to be released”. lt is not a coincidence that discharges happen most often during or after a storm. lf this pressure is not discharged the wastewater – including sewage – will back up into the streets and into people’s homes. This is not hyperbolic; it is a fact. The age of this Victorian sewerage system means that the complete elimination of storm overflows would be extremely challenging. Unfortunately, they have always been a part of our wastewater infrastructure and until now little action has been taken by any government or party.

One of the recent amendments in the Lords would have required work to be done to eliminate sewage discharges, and I was one of several hundred MPs who opposed it. Initial estimates of the work necessary to achieve this are in the region of £150 billion and upwards. To put that in perspective, this is more than the entire budget of the NHS. These costs would inevitably be passed onto taxpayers or water bill payers. No sensible legislator could have backed this. I am of the view that the water companies should foot the bill for improvements over time and not the taxpayer, so these improvements must be manageable.

That rather begs the question about where we would be now if the necessary improvements had been started a decade or two ago? And indeed what the actual cost would be in today’s day and age!

[Edit – November 1st]

This tweet from Professor Dieter Helm seems apposite at this juncture?

[Edit – November 3rd]

After almost continuous heavy rain, hopefully the end is in sight for the current series of pollution incidents on the beaches of North Cornwall. Several beaches are not being monitored at this time of year, but currently Widemouth Bay and Trevone are the only ones still marked in red on the Surfers Against Sewage water quality map:

Hopefully those two will get the all clear tomorrow

[Edit – November 5th]

In answer to my question above about “the actual cost of the necessary improvements to the UK’s ageing sewage infrastructure”, the Government has just announced:

An independent research project that considers options, costs and benefits for reducing storm sewage discharges in England.

Reducing sewage discharges from storm overflows is an important priority to protect the environment.

This research, the first assessment of its kind, was commissioned by the Storm Overflows Taskforce – made up of Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, CCW, Blueprint for Water and Water UK – and funded by Water UK.

The independent research, carried out by Stantec, presents a detailed overview of potential approaches that will act as an important evidence base for government action.

The Storm Overflows Taskforce will now consider the report and its recommendations to:

  • support the development of the best mix of policy solutions
  • inform the government plan on storm overflows to be published in September 2022.

The report itself evaluates the costs and benefits of a range of scenarios. The methodology used is summarised like this:

The policies tested consider the universal implementation of permits to control storm overflow spill frequency to an average of either 40, 20, 10, 5 or 0 (zero) times per year (named F40, F20, F10, F5 and F0, respectively).

Three scenarios are also considered, describing the engineering approach used to deliver policies. The first relies on a conventional approach to capture spills from storm overflows using network storage (W) which is sized sufficiently to capture spills and allow for these to slowly return to the sewer network for treatment.

The other two augment the conventional approach with partly or wholly nature-based technologies (retrofitted SuDS) at two levels: 10 percent of impermeable area controlled (S10) and 50 percent of impermeable area controlled (S50). In this context, controlled means that these flows do not enter the combined sewer system. The SuDS solutions are implemented in addition to sewer network storage; therefore creating mixed grey-green solutions. The S10 level of SuDS is at a modest level across the catchment, whilst the S50 level is at a high level. Controlling runoff from 50% of impermeable area (S50) is broadly equivalent to preventing all highway runoff entering combined sewers in a fully combined catchment.

The costs of the various approaches are summarised in the following infographic:

There seem to be a wide range of available options that cost considerably less than £150 billion, and that’s before accounting for the associated benefits.



A Wet Weekend Pollutes North Cornwall Beaches

Yesterday afternoon was extremely wet in Davidstow and the rest of North Cornwall, as we reported on Twitter:

This morning the after effects are still affecting our beaches, as can be seen via the Surfers Against Sewage Safer Seas Service map:

Currently Bude and Widemouth Bay still have green ticks, but a bit further south there are numerous sewage pollution alerts from Polzeath down to Newquay and beyond.