North Devon has arguably some of the best beaches in the UK, and for the most part its waters are clean, safe and used by thousands each year. In June 2015 three of its blue flagged beaches were closed for short periods of time for water quality issues, this raised doubt among many locals and visitors of the safety and water quality.
Case study: Sewer pipe reef
Photo taken 12/12/2016 – Sewer Pipe Reef
As the name suggests this is a reef that sits just of the end of a sewage overflow outlet pipe, fortunately this reef can only be surfed by competent surfers, the shallow reef with sharp rocks and the fairly secluded nature of the wave discourages most, however for those who surf it after heavy rain will see an ‘organic’ clod coming for them though the water. As shown in the photo above this is the wave after a period of heavy rain. There are several possible infectious implications from contact with contaminated water including Norovirus and E. coli and many more! The issue of this contamination must be addressed, this outlet pipe needs to be significantly further out to sea to account for coastal and tidal currents.
This is not the only case of exposure to effluent in sea water in the UK, black pool has been measure significantly above the national legislation for concentrations of several bacteria (Alexander, 2010). Safe localised sea-water conditions are essential, especially in a region driven by the tourist industry.
Alexander, L. M. (2010). Symptomatology of children in contact with sea water contaminated with sewage. Journal of Epidemiol Community Health, 340-344.