Anglian Water to provide live updates of sewage released into West Norfolk seas and rivers
People will soon be able to get live updates showing if sewage has been released into our rivers and coastal waters.
Anglian Water’s coastal catchment manager Adam Worley has said this will come into force next year, providing up-to-date information within ten minutes of storm overflows being used.
Councillors have welcomed the move and hope it will make it clearer as to where and when it is safe to swim.
Water companies are allowed to release sewage through storm overflows when the system is overwhelmed during heavy rain in order to help prevent flooding.
However, Anglian Water currently only releases the data annually – and people must instead rely on pollution risk forecasts based on weather predictions.
The change in practice was revealed at a West Norfolk Council meeting during which Anglian Water and Environment Agency representatives were discussing the action taken to investigate poor water quality of the Heacham and Hunstanton coastline.
West Norfolk borough councillor Rob Colwell, who has been campaigning for more action on the issue, believes it is a step in the right direction.
“I am pleased that families will be able to have a bit more of an idea whether it will be a good day for a swim rather than being left in the dark,” he said.
“The next step would be to provide the volume of the discharges as well.”
The release of sewage through storm overflows has been under the spotlight in recent years, prompting fears that water companies could be harming rivers and coasts due to the practice.
Anglian Water has said it is investing £800million in the region between 2020 and 2025, with £200million directly into addressing storm overflows.
According to the latest figures, the use of storm overflows increased in 2023 at two pumping stations in Hunstanton compared to last year.
There have been 21 releases this year, totalling just under 20 hours, compared with only 18 releases in 2022 over four hours.