FOLLOWING the weekend’s torrential rain, every sewage discharge outlet monitored in Teignbridge released raw sewage into the sea.
Beaches monitored are Shaldon, Teignmouth Town, Holcombe, Dawlish Town and Coryton Cove. As well as these, almost every other monitored sewage discharge point across Devon was also affected.
There was also widespread reports from the public of sewage in the river Teign and Dart.
The pollution was caused by the requirement of South West Water’s infrastructure to discharge the contents of its sewage systems into local rivers and seas during wet weather, to prevent systems becoming overloaded with water.
While the use of these sewage overflows is common and usually permitted by the Environment Agency, there has been widespread criticism around the frequency and necessity of their use.
South West Water was the second worst for their use of sewage overflows in 2022, pumping raw sewage into the South West’s waterways for over 290,000 hours.
Martin Wrigley, councillor for Dawlish North East and campaigner against the use of sewage overflows, said: ‘I am disgusted. We can see this as a symptom of the mess that water companies are in. It rains, they should be expecting that. Sure it was heavy rain but this happens every year.
‘What we’re seeing is the failure of water companies, the failure of the privatisation model and the failure of many other things.
‘It’s not good enough and we have to continue to push for better. I can see a whole change in the way that the water industry is run, and the sooner it comes the better.’
A South West Water spokesperson said: 'There are a wide range of influences which affect the colour of rivers, including agricultural and urban run-off. Following the thunderstorms and heavy rainfall over the weekend which led to localised flooding, we can confirm there was permitted storm overflow activity in Teignbridge and the South Hams.
'Storm overflows are pressure relief valves built into our network which will have helped prevent other properties and businesses from flooding during this extreme weather, but these are not the only factors that can cause water discoloration. We recognise that to improve the quality of our rivers, we all need to play our part.'