Skip to content

South West Water @ the council

  • by JW

Questions, some responses and some moves in the right direction.


There has been a lot of politicking going on by the two main candidates (election year…?) – and nothing stirs the electorate more than the polluting of our rivers and seas – and our sports fields.

So, on the one hand there was Richard Foord MP saying he was concerned to hear that the rugby pitches in Sidmouth are currently out-of-action due to a suspected sewage leak. “First swimmers and aquatic life affected – now rugby players?!”

And on the other there was Simon Jupp MP, whose constituency this is, stating that following reports of a potential leak from the underground sewage network below Sidmouth RFC‘s pitches in Sidford, he met up with rugby club people and contacted SWW.

As the Herald reported at the time, the rugby pitches were closed due to suspected sewage contamination – but a few days later they made it clear that there was no contamination, and that Sidmouth Rugby Club pitches reopened after the sewage leak scare.

Meanwhile, as reported by East Devon Watch, South West Water faced the EDDC Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 1 February – with a series of very pointed questions amounting to twelve in total. At the meeting chaired by Sidmouth Cllr Mike Goodman, the chair invited the main SWW representative to respond further to the written questions and to update the Committee on the current situation. The main recommendation which came out was that a Task and Finish Forum should be scoped to consider sewerage issues across the District.

And in the meantime back in Sidmouth, Charlie Ford of South West Water attended a meeting of Sidmouth Town Council on Monday 5 February to give a briefing to Members on forthcoming major improvement works in the Sid Valley over the next few months and years which included improvements to water separation systems.

Here’s a fuller report as given at the Town Council’s Environment Committee meeting on Monday 12 February, that:

  • SWW are trying to reduce the amount of fresh water entering the sewers;
  • they are increasing the general tank capacity so not need to use the overflow/CSO system;
  • they have identified streams going directly into the sewage system;
  • they will be dealing with run-off in car parks;
  • they will double they capacity of storage at the Ham;
  • they will be lining sewers where there is infiltration;
  • and ultimately, SWW will thereby be able reduce untreated water going into river and sea.

See also an excellent background piece by Ed Dolphin back in April last year, posted on the River Sid website, where he looked at sewage spill around Sidmouth’s beach: what’s it all about? – with the closing paragraph given again here:

The good news for Sidmouth is that the combined efforts of local citizen scientists, the town council and the local MP have forced SWW to prioritise our system. They will be spending up to £1.3m in the next three years. The first task will be to survey the sewers to find areas where leaky pipes are allowing ground water to infiltrate in and add to the load. The worst sewers will be relined. The company will also be checking to see where rainwater is being misdirected from properties into the foul water system and these will be corrected. I have no idea how they will do that, and how we will know if it has worked. If this work does not reduce the number of spills sufficiently, SWW may seek to enlarge the storage tank under the Ham.