AS WE come out of lockdown and more and more people take to swimming in the sea, there remains worrying signs sewage continues to get pumped into the Island's waters.

The latest data on Southern Water's interactive, online map, Beachbuoy — which, since 2018, has been providing up-to-date information about releases of stormwater or wastewater from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) — has generated some worrying outflow alerts this week.

Isle of Wight County Press:


Yesterday's (Saturday) map shows releases from a CSO at various designated bathing waters on the Island over the past 24 hours (as a red square), as well as safer areas where has been no CSO release over the past 72 hours (a blue circular icon).

Much of the problem has been caused by heavy downpours this week.

Isle of Wight County Press: Map of ongoing sewage outlfow around the Island. Map courtesy of Southern Water.Map of ongoing sewage outlfow around the Island. Map courtesy of Southern Water.

The most sewage-affected areas over the past 24 hours have been Gurnard, Cowes, Ryde, Seaview, St Helens, Bembridge, Whitecliff Bay, Yaverland and Sandown.

Bathers and surfers in contaminated water are at risk of gastroenteritis, together with ear, nose and throat infections, skin infections, hepatitis and e-coli.

The safest areas in which to swim are Shanklin, Ventnor, Compton, Totland and Colwell.

Isle of Wight County Press:

While many bathers and surfers continue to complain Southern Water is not doing enough or investing enough into making the Island's bathing waters cleaner, the utility company argues it continues to invest millions on its wastewater network to reduce its impact on bathing water quality.

Southern Water also point out bathing water is also affected by a range of other sources of pollution, such as contaminated rain water running off roads and agricultural land, and from privately-owned treatment works, boats and animals on the beach, such as dogs and seabirds.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The company has invested in works in Ventnor, Sandown and Shanklin in more recent times, and they plan to invest in Cowes and Whitecliff Bay in the coming years, as part of its Bathing Water Enhancement Programme.

In Shanklin, £4 million was spent managing waste, planting trees and putting in fencing in a bid to improve the bathing water, which led to the Environment Agency classing it as 'excellent'.

The work in these additional locations will include misconnections surveys and any correctional work necessary, signage to encourage dog owners to clean up after their pets and various measures to reduce the impact from birds.

Isle of Wight County Press:

However, problems in other parts of the Island are causing a stink.

As recently as last month, an aged sewage pipe at Appley Beach — which pumped 900 litres of effluent a second from Ryde, Binstead and Nettlestone to Sandown —collapsed, which caused a sinkhole.

Then to compound matters, a temporary pumping system designed to bypass the collapsed sewer pipe, failed, which caused raw sewage to burst from manhole covers on the promenade.