Bathing water threat due to poor plumbing

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HOMEOWNERS are being warned their faulty plumbing could be to blame for contaminated water being discharged into the sea around Hastings.

Hastings Borough Council has been working with the Environment Agency and Southern Water to identify the cause of water quality problems because the town is in danger of failing to meet new European minimum bathing standards.

Investigations found that wastewater pipes have been wrongly connected to the surface water system in some Hastings homes, particularly where properties have been extended or en-suite bathrooms added.

Parts of Hastings have separate sewer systems for wastewater and surface water. Wastewater, from toilets, kitchens and bathrooms, is taken away for treatment by Southern Water. Surface water - rain that has fallen onto roofs, gardens and open spaces - flows into a separate system which is discharged into the sea without treatment.

So when wastewater pipes are wrongly connected to the surface water network, untreated wastewater is being directed straight out to sea.

Engineers working for Hastings Borough Council and the Environment Agency have narrowed down the areas where the surface water sewer system appears most polluted. They are now carrying out more detailed analysis, trying to pinpoint individual houses that may have been wrongly plumbed.

And the council is warning property owners they are responsible for these water connections and if they do not correct plumbing errors when brough to light, further action may be taken against them.

Councillor Phil Scott, the council’s lead member for the environment, said: “Many residents and visitors enjoy a swim or a paddle in the sea, and it would be disappointing for them, and potentially devastating for our tourism industry, if we had to put signs up advising against going into the water.

“But that is a real possibility if we can’t improve the quality of our seawater.

“That is why we are investigating the cause of our poor water quality and, if problems are found with the plumbing at some houses, ensuring that the homeowner is told so that they can put it right. If they don’t, we can take further action, but we obviously hope it won’t come to that.”