Mystery of contamination in Sidmouth stream finally solved

Area of beach by Bedford Steps was cordoned off while officers worked to identify source of contamin

Area of beach by Bedford Steps was cordoned off while officers worked to identify source of contamination - Credit: Archant

Partially blocked sewer was cause of pollution that sparked warning

The mystery behind the source of contamination affecting a stream running onto Sidmouth beach has finally been solved.

Environment Agency (EA) officers, in partnership with East Devon District Council (EDDC) and South West Water (SWW), identified a partially blocked sewer as the probable cause of pollution in water discharge by the Bedford Steps.

The three agencies have been working to find the source of contamination since April and EDDC recently issued a warning that it could have adversely affected bathing water quality.

In a statement today, the authority said: “A partially blocked public sewer, some distance from the beach, has already been identified as a possible source.

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“The blocked sewer has now been cleared and an improvement in the stream outfall is already apparent.”

A joint survey on surface water and sewage networks initially indicated the pollution was not from a single direct source and a misconnection from properties in the Station Road area was a suspected cause.

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Councillor Iain Chubb, EDDC’s portfolio holder for the environment, said: “This has been a great example of partnership working between three public bodies who together have resolved an issue that had the potential to have a negative impact on the beach at the height of the tourist season.

“I would also like to thank our StreetScene team for their hard work in cleaning the beach and putting barriers up. Now that the stream is sparkling again, they will be tidying up the pebbles and generally making sure the whole area is looking at its best.”

Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and SWW will carry out further works if they become necessary.

The EA has kept check on water quality throughout the investigation.

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