More than 40 beaches and swimming areas in England and Wales have pollution warnings in place after heavy rain overwhelmed the sewage system after months of little or no rain.
According to data gathered by environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), the south west and south coast of England were the worst affected.
Swimmers are advised not to bathe at seven beaches in Cornwall due to storm sewage overflows, with four beaches in Devon and five in Dorset also contaminated by the recent rains.
Storm sewage also affected nine beaches in Sussex, three on the Isle of Wight, and three in Essex.
The volume of raw or partially treated sewage pumped into the UK’s rivers and coastal waters has sparked growing public outrage in recent years.
Hugo Tagholm, SAS’s CEO, tweeted on Tuesday, “The shitstorm after the calm.” Many south coast beaches are closed due to sewage discharges from @SouthernWater.”
A spokeswoman for SAS said there were nine more pollution warnings in effect that were not related to heavy rain, and visitors to the coast are advised to always check its interactive map on its website before swimming.
The Environment Agency stated in a July report that water company executives should face jail time for the worst pollution incidents, describing the sector’s performance in 2021 as the “worst we have seen in years.”