Out of season FAQs
All your questions answered regarding the out of season service.
- Does BeachLive run beyond the official bathing season?
- Why did you turn Beach Live off at the beginning of November?
- Why can't you leave it switched on while you are upgrading it?
- What about surfers and other water users who continue to use the sea all year round?
- In previous years, you have left at least some beaches on until Christmas or even afterwards. Why is this year different?
- You make massive profits. Why don't you use some of them to keep the service running during the winter? Or better still, ignore the 'official bathing water season' altogether?
- So you don't care about us then?
- What will happen to Beach Live in 2016?
Does BeachLive run beyond the official bathing season?
Yes. In 2016 we switched on BeachLive before the start of the official bathing water season (15 May to 30 September) and extended it at the end of the season to cover the following 14 beaches every day up to and including Sunday 30 October to coincide with beaches being staffed by the RNLI during that time:
- Bude (Summerleaze)
- Croyde Bay (Braunton)
- Mawgan Porth
- Perranporth Village End
- Praa Sands (East and West)
- The Towans (Godrevy)
- Trevaunance Cove (St Agnes)
- Widemouth Sand
- Woolacombe Village
Why did you turn Beach Live off at the end of October?
The service is now undergoing redevelopment and maintenance before being switched on again in time for the 2017 bathing water season.
We do this over the winter months because this is when the fewest people use the sea.
Why can't you leave it switched on while you are upgrading it?
We have done this in previous years. However, this year - in common with many of the other water companies - we have decided to switch the service off. This is partly because of the amount of resource required to run the service compared to the relatively small number of people who will continue to use it during the winter.
What about surfers and other water users who continue to use the sea all year round?
It is important to remember that stormwater overflows are just one factor with the potential to affect bathing water quality. Bathing water quality is also affected by urban drainage, agricultural run-off, birds and other wildlife, private sewers and misconnections - homes wrongly connected to surface water drainage instead of public foul sewers - as well as South West Water's infrastructure.
The Environment Agency's Pollution Risk Forecast (PRF) system, which alerts the public when certain bathing waters may be affected by rainfall, is also discontinued outside of the bathing water season.
In the absence of PRF warnings BeachLive remains the only 'real-time' warning process that can relay potential weather related risks on water quality. Therefore, in the absence of any other complementary warning systems, and despite EA public advice on wider risks to bathing water quality, the public's focus remains, perhaps unsurprisingly, on the CSOs because they are the only source for which proactively warnings are made, to the detriment of any understanding of the wider catchment sources and regulatory issues.
Many local authorities, whose responsibility it is to put signs at beaches as a result of BeachLive alerts and / or pollution risk forecasts, are also unable to justify resourcing this activity at a time when fewer people are using the sea.
However, permanent information about bathing water quality is on display at every beach and also available on the Environment Agency's website.
Please also remember that lifeguards do not routinely patrol beaches outside the summer season.
In previous years, you have left at least some beaches on until Christmas or even afterwards. Why is this year different?
We have done this in previous years. However, this year - in common with many of the other water companies - we have decided to switch it off. This is partly because of the amount of resource required to run the service compared to the relatively small number of people who will continue to use it during the winter.
You make massive profits. Why don't you use some of them to keep the service running during the winter? Or better still, ignore the 'official bathing water season' altogether?
While we appreciate that there are water sports enthusiasts who use the sea year-round, we feel it is important to ensure that the inevitable extra costs associated with extending the service - and which will ultimately be met by our customers through their taxes and bills - are proportionate to the number of people who will benefit.
We believe any major change will need the support of the majority of our customers as they will in effect be heavily subsidising a much smaller group of out of season beach users.
So you don't care about us then?
Over the past two decades we have invested over £2billion in our Clean Sweep programme, providing new sewage treatment facilities around the South West peninsula and closing 250 crude sewage outfalls, providing treatment and building over 216,000 cubic metres (the equivalent of 86 Olympic-sized swimming pools) of extra storm storage.
We also have additional disinfection at 64 of our works - the highest level of treatment available - more than any other water company.
In 2014/15, South West Water invested a further £20million to deliver even cleaner seas at nine beaches in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall which were considered to be at risk of not meeting the new EU bathing water directive.
In addition, between 2015 and 2020 we will spend a further £463million on improving the region's sewerage network and treatment works.
We were also the first water company to develop a real-time stormwater overflow alert service.
So we are very aware of the vital role our beautiful beaches and clean seas play in the region's economy.
What will happen to Beach Live in 2017?
BeachLive will be switched on again in time for the start of the 2017 bathing water season, if not before.
We aim to increase the number of beaches covered by the service, but this does need the agreement of the beach managers.