Anglian Water's Coastal Team at Two Tree Island Southend

Anglian Water will plough £4 million into Southend over the next five years as part of its ongoing commitment to help improve the cleanliness of the local bathing waters. 

The investment will include installing a number of new storm water tanks to trap and treat more rain water, reducing the number of overflows that occur, and cleaning it before it’s released to sea.

In addition, money will be spent on tackling diffuse pollution (rainwater run-off) that is, cumulatively, the main cause of poor bathing water quality in the East of England.

Sources of diffuse pollution include:
• Rainwater run-off from roads, roofs, pavements and farmland that washes pollutants such as chemicals, animal mess and litter into the sea
• Misconnected house drains, which have a massive combined impact by sending foul waste out to rivers and the sea as if it were rainwater
• Populations of roosting birds that cause large quantities of droppings to enter the bathing water

To build on existing local partnerships and accelerate projects to tackle diffuse pollution, Anglian Water has recruited a dedicated Coastal Catchment Manager for Essex. Jo Carrington said: “Anglian Water’s been committed to improving bathing waters along the East of England coastline for decades and we’ve invested hundreds of millions of pounds in our infrastructure to take care of any big issues. What remain are these hard-to-reach sources of pollution, like misconnected house drains and urban and agricultural run-off, that have a large, cumulative impact on our bathing waters.

“We need to work together with local organisations and partners to address the root causes of these problems if we are to safeguard our beaches now and for the long term future. We’ve set aside £150,000 to make this happen and I’ll be working hard to continue our successful partnership work with local authorities, the Environment Agency, and other local groups. For example, building on the £250,000 we invested in 2013 to reduce the number of misconnected house drains. Working alongside Southend Borough Council, the Environment Agency and others, this project removed tens of thousands of litres of polluted water from the local bathing waters and beaches.”

“It's not just Southend or Essex that faces these challenges though. Diffuse pollution is the major factor affecting bathing water quality in the East of England, but the specific issues vary for each bathing water. That’s why we are committing to this substantial investment and why we'll be working with local contacts to make sure the bathing waters and beaches, that we know are so loved by Southend’s residents and visitors, remain open and a main attraction for the town.”

To trace the sources of diffuse pollution Anglian Water will be using state-of-the-art technology to identify sources of pollution and how they are entering our coastal waters. This will accompany more traditional investigative techniques such as CCTV surveys, dye tracing, sampling, and on foot surveys of the coastal catchment.

How can customers do their bit for their bathing waters?
Misconnections are one of the main culprits of poor bathing water quality and often occur because of poor quality building works and plumbing mistakes.

These have a devastating impact on the cleanliness of local rivers and much-loved bathing waters as dirty water from toilets, sinks, showers, washing machines and dishwashers ends up in the surface water sewer, rather than the foul sewer, and from there flows directly into rivers and the sea.

Jo added: “The difficulty with misconnected drains is that many homeowners are innocent bystanders completely unaware of the pollution being caused by their every flush. That’s why it’s so important that we raise awareness and urge people to only employ approved plumbers for any home improvements.

“Although misconnections aren’t always visible above ground we’d still encourage customers to give their exterior wastewater pipes a ‘once-over’. If they spot anything unusual, for instance if their rainwater guttering downpipe is feeding into the same drain as their sink or toilet pipe, that could mean there’s a misconnection and we’d urge them to let us know.”