Southern Waters changes pollution alert tool to reduce automatic red alerts | Water

A water company has changed its pollution alert map for the public to stop issuing automatic red alerts after a discharge.

Southern Water attracted public criticism this summer for releasing raw sewage through storm surge after torrential rain along the Kent coast. Activists used social media to share the company widely Beachbuoy . Mapwhich characterizes beaches at risk of contamination from the discharge of raw sewage by the Red Cross, often revealing that much of the coast has been damaged.

After storms in August, at least nine Kent beaches were issued pollution warnings and the Environment Agency issued a “do not swim” warning for beaches across most of Kent’s north and southeast coasts.

This month in the south Water Announce changes to the Beachbuoy map, which means it will no longer automatically flag all raw sewage releases into shower waters via storm surge.

Instead, Southern Water analyzes floods by modeling tides and weather, before determining which ones are likely to cause water quality problems on beaches.

Explaining the change on his website, he said: “In September 2022, we upgraded the map to account for the impact of the launch on local bathing waters, based on downstream location, launch duration and tidal conditions at the time.

The Southern Water Beachbuoy map identifies beaches at risk of contamination from raw sewage discharge.
The Southern Water Beachbuoy map identifies beaches at risk of contamination from raw sewage discharge. Photo: south water

For example, if the estuary is 5 km [3.1 miles] At sea, the launch was brief and tidal conditions meant there could be no effect on the bathing water, and we no longer turned the bathwater symbol red.”

The company said the releases are still available on its website in the accompanying table of Common Sewer Surplus (CSO) sites. Most of her estuaries were long sea estuaries and where they are close to the bathing water, she said, they were designed with bathing water in mind.

Ed Actson, of the SOS Whitstable electoral group, said he believed the changes were a way to turn a red map into blue to avoid bad PR.

“They no longer refer to every CSO version of the beaches on their map, which is what it was set up for,” Actison said. “They say they are taking into account the impact of the leak on local bathing water but they don’t have the information to make that decision. The map was recently covered in red; it’s bad public relations for them. It was shared on social media and caused outrage. It’s what they are trying to avoid” .

Mike Owens, of Hayling Sewage Watch, analyzed the data on the map Wednesday morning. He assessed that 15 of the 83 beaches were marked in blue that would have been red prior to the latest software update because the outfalls were draining untreated sewage nearby.

“This is a matter of trust in Southern Water to provide accurate, open and transparent information,” Owens said. “They say they want to improve the user experience but manipulating data without giving us details is very unhelpful and frankly not open or transparent.

“They say they use tides, weather and location to determine if the discharge is affecting water quality on the beach but doesn’t show us how they do the math.

“I don’t know how they do it and how they implemented it so quickly.”

For the 246 discharges, Owens said, the company will need to analyze the minute details of each variable in deciding whether the discharge affected water quality — including data on different tidal times, wind speeds and weather.

“If you multiply those together, it’s an astonishingly large amount of data.”

Martin Williams, Beachbuoy product owner at Southern Water, said: “This is an important step for the tool, as we ensure accurate, fair and clear information is provided to surfers, kayakers, paddlers and all users of beautiful beaches in our area.

“Beachbuoy is leading the way in providing near-real-time data on storm releases, but we must make sure it goes further to inform the public of the impacts on the watercourse and not limit their enjoyment of the local shower water. Despite this, we will never hide the data. With all versions still available on the website.

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