Anglian Water is urging local businesses and residents in Felixstowe to think twice before tipping oil, paint or cleaning products down road gullies in the town.
Last week a black oily substance entered a surface water or “rain” drain and ended up at the beach. The “rain” drain is only designed to carry rainwater from roads and pavements and goes straight out to sea.
Lu Gilfoyle, Coastal Strategy Manager said: “Fortunately the oily substance was reported to us quickly by a member of the public on the beach, enjoying the sunshine. Our teams quickly attended and the beach was cleared.
“Our scientists have taken samples and are talking to local businesses in the area to identify the substance and find its source. Materials like oil and even paint wrongly tipped down “rain” drains could cause a pollution at the beach and have a devastating impact on the environment. Anyone found doing this can be prosecuted.”
The problem is not just isolated to Felixstowe. For example in Clacton last summer Anglian Water spray painted coloured crabs on road gullies after private coaches were suspected of emptying their toilets into the drain in the seafront car park.
Lu continued: “Often people tipping things down the drain is an innocent mistake as they think all drains flow into a foul sewer and end up at the local water recycling centre. This isn’t always the case and road gullies can be connected to a rain drain which takes water from roads to the sea.
“We need to raise awareness among residents and visitors so they can be vigilant and report any activity like this. If they do they’ll be helping to protect their much-loved coastline.”
Anglian Water already employs a Coastal Protection Team that works all year round to pinpoint pollution and prevent it impacting our coast. The water company also runs Beachcare, in conjunction with Keep Britain Tidy, to support volunteers and keep the region’s much-loved beaches litter-free.
Lu added, “Ultimately what someone puts down these surface water drains today will end up at the beach tomorrow, and that’s why this message is important.
“Our region’s beaches and bathing waters are one of our biggest economic assets in the East. Tourism is a huge industry and we want to see that continue. That is why caring for our coastline is so important to us at Anglian Water.
“We know visitors and residents love their seaside too and by raising awareness of how unconscious actions like disposing of waste down a rain-drain can have serious consequences we hope to get more people working together to each do our bit for the coastal environment and ensure our beaches and bathing waters remain among the best in the country.”
Anglian Water has invested more than £300million in bathing waters over the past two decades and the region is now home to a quarter of Britain’s best bathing waters.