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Residents reminded of their role in keeping North Devon's seas clean

image depicting Combe Martin
Combe Martin
Local residents are being encouraged to play their part in helping to keep North Devon's seas clean.

This follows an incident last month when the public were advised not to swim in the sea for two days after a section of the beach was cordoned off for cleaning when a blocked sewer overflowed from a manhole on the slipway above Combe Martin beach.

The blockage was caused by a build-up of unflushable materials, such as baby wipes and sanitary products mixed with cooking fat, which had been incorrectly disposed of down the sewer system. 

Combe Martin Parish Council, the Environment Agency and South West Water are working together to highlight how everyone can help prevent such incidents occurring.

Andrew Roantree, Director of Waste Water Services (East) for South West Water, said: "The Combe Martin Clean Bathing Water Group, Combe Martin Parish Council, the Environment Agency, local farmers, South West Water and many others have been working hard to improve and protect bathing water quality at Combe Martin.

"All this good work paid off in 2015 when the quality of Combe Martin's bathing water was rated 'good' under the stricter new standards. It had previously been predicted to be rated 'poor'.

"But we need the public's help if Combe Martin is to continue to enjoy clean seas. Please help us keep the sewerage network clear by only flushing the 3Ps - pee, paper and poo - down the loo."

In 2015, South West Water spent £2million to construct two new storm water storage tanks in Combe Martin.

The Environment Agency (EA) has also completed a variety of projects to improve and safeguard bathing water quality such as an extensive agricultural partnership scheme with landowners involving the installation of 8.5km of livestock fencing, the provision of alternative drinking supplies and the replacement of farmyard dirty water systems.

The EA has also undertaken water quality surveys to locate problem areas, dye surveys of the bathing water, urban misconnections surveys and remediation and a 'Yellow Fish' campaign with Combe Martin School (highlighting drains that go direct to the river).

Combe Martin Parish Council has promoted a dog ban on the beach during the bathing season and manages the daily pollution risk forecast warnings at the beach.

Peter James, Chair of Combe Martin Parish Council, added: "As part of the campaign to improve water quality and prevent flooding, Combe Martin Parish Council will shortly be embarking on a willow planting campaign in the River Umber catchment.

"We would be delighted to hear from individual landowners who would agree to have willow planted in appropriate areas, or volunteers to help with the planting. Please contact the office on 01271 883403 for more information."

Notes to editors

  • Across the region South West Water spends over £4million clearing over 8,500 blockages each year caused by baby wipes, hygiene wipes, moist toilet tissues, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products, all of which do not break down in the same way that toilet paper does.  This can lead to sewer blockages and flooding. Cooking oil, fat and grease disposed of via the sink can also build up and block pipes, particularly when mixed with these other materials. 
  • The South West Water 'Love Your Loo' campaign billboard will be in Combe Martin on Thursday 11 August, during Carnival Week, reminding everyone to flush only the 3Ps - pee, paper and poo - down the loo. 

Published: 8 August 2016

For further information please contact:

Press Office
South West Water
www: www.southwestwater.co.uk/contactus

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