Ruptured pipe which led to sewage spill and no swimming warnings on Blackpool's beaches was a 'one off'

Damage to a waterpipe which led to a spillage of raw sewage onto Blackpool’s beaches this summer was an ‘isolated incident’, councillors have been told.
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The incident in June led to people being warned not to swim in the sea, with the resulting negative publicity sparking fears the resort’s tourism industry would be hit.

A pipe ruptured on June 11 with United Utilities able to manage the flows of sewage while the weather remained dry.

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However the following day sewage spilled out from storm overflows during a severe thunderstorm which meant the system was overwhelmed as 1.7 inches (44mm) of rain fell in two hours.

Blackpool BeachBlackpool Beach
Blackpool Beach

Untreated sewage mixed with rainwater was released from storm overflows along the coast.

Clare Nolan-Barnes, head of coastal and environmental partnerships for Blackpool Council, said officers had recently met with United Utilities and discussed the incident.

She told a meeting of the council’s Climate Change and Environment Scrutiny Committee: “We believe it was a one-off incident and millions of pounds has been spent on repairing it.

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“We are confident that they (United Utilities) are on it and as far as we are aware it was an isolated incident.”

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Results from the testing of bathing waters this year are not due until the beginning of December, but a report to the committee said several sources of potential pollution remain – including the risk from seabirds.

The birds flock in particular around places where there is food waste left behind, with North Pier and areas of the Spanish Steps on the Promenade previously highlighted.

A report to the committee says: “In respect of birds, the Environment Agency have advised that sea birds continue to present a pollution risk to bathing waters.

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Blackpool Council has made links to Coast Sense and the University of Liverpool to utilise radar data and analyse bird impact during the bathing season.”

In December 2022, Blackpool joined other local authorities in signing the Motion for the Ocean pledge to protect seawaters.

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An action plan has now been drafted following a workshop held in October with other partners who have joined the initiative.

The council is also set to refresh its work with the Turning Tides partnership to re-establish the Love My Beach campaigns which urge residents and visitors to do their bit to help protect the sea from pollution.