Huge Saltburn beach sewage discharge blamed on ‘intense’ rainfall


Image source, Heather Lofthouse


Sewage water was seen flowing from a manhole cover at the end of the Lower Promenade at Saltburn

At a glance

  • Huge sewage discharge blamed on “intense and prolonged” rainfall
  • Water was seen gushing from under manhole covers
  • Lifeguards warned people away from sewage on the beach
  • Northumbria Water said floodwater had mixed with eroded soil and mud

A huge sewage discharge on to a north-east of England beach has been blamed on “intense and prolonged” rainfall.

Saltburn resident Heather Lofthouse said she saw water gushing from manhole covers which had wet wipes and toilet paper around them.

Lifeguards at Saltburn beach were warning people away from the sewage, she said.

Northumbrian Water explained floodwater from streets and the sewer network had mixed with eroded soil and mud.

“We have had a particularly intense and prolonged period of rainfall in the region resulting in a lot of pressure on our networks,” a spokeswoman said. 

“This caused some manhole covers in the Saltburn area to lift and flood and some parts of the network to overspill.”

Image source, Heather Lofthouse


Heather Lofthouse was walking her dogs and heard lifeguards warning beachgoers

Ms Lofthouse said water had been gushing from drains, both at the weekend and the previous week, and a manhole on the Lower Promenade had wet wipes and toilet paper around it.

She said she had written to Northumbrian Water who she said “gave her some spiel saying it’s customers’ fault for flushing wet wipes”.

Saltburn councillor Philip Thomson said the amount of recent rain would “undoubtedly” have compromised the network and sewage discharge was not a surprise, “given past experience”.


Saltburn councillor Philip Thomson was not surprised

Mr Thomson said, while it was permitted in certain circumstances, he was “absolutely” against the practice of discharging sewage into the sea.

However, he acknowledged significant investment in infrastructure would be needed to stop it entirely and this might be unrealistic, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

On Wednesday, it emerged the UK’s six biggest water firms, including Northumbrian Water, were facing legal action over claims they underreported pollution and overcharged customers, something denied by the industry.

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