It is nothing like sewage but it is unattractive

I would like to disagree with some of what Craig Sams said in his letter about the discharge pipe on Hastings beach.

The pipe carries water from the Alexandra Park stream.

It certainly isn’t a ‘sewage pipe pouring toxic contents into the sea’.

Even before all the work took place to clean up the stream, and Hastings Beach was not good enough to pass the new EU standards, it was nothing like ‘sewage’, which has coliform counts hundreds of times higher than anything that ever came out of that pipe.

It would also be nowhere near as high as, say, a rural stream flowing through a field of cattle.

When we talk about ‘faecal contamination’, it’s also important to know what’s being measured: primarily, the numbers of a bacterium called E. coli, which is very common in animal guts.

While almost always harmless (a few rare types are pathogenic), it is used as an indicator of faecal pollution.

All water everywhere will contain some E. coli.

They are present on the skin of humans and other animals, and show up in quite high numbers on, for example, shared crockery in offices.

But the work done to trace and correct over 100 toilets connected to surface water drains, many of which drain into the Alexandra Park stream, reduced the level of coliforms in the stream dramatically, resulting in Hastings Beach passing the EU water quality standard with a ‘good’ rating.

The work being done in 
the park now, to aerate the water, filter it, and slow its flow, will further reduce the number of coliforms, including those that get into the stream naturally from animals and birds that live in the park.

So the water coming out of the pipe will have a much reduced coliform count – it will still have some, as will all water that’s not been treated for use as drinking water (and even drinking water has a few).

But it’s nothing like sewage.

However, what I do agree with is that the pipe is unsightly and not at all an attractive feature to have on the beach.

The pipe is owned by Southern Water, but so far our efforts have concentrated on getting them to help sort out the water quality problems.

We’ll now have to try to persuade them to replace the pipe.

Peter Chowney BSc

(Microbiology & Biochemistry)


Hastings Borough Council

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