Devon beachgoers warned sea could turn ‘yellow or green’ amid ‘investigative’ sewage work

South West Water said the discolouration of the sea would only be “temporary” but the test has been “inconclusive” and it is exploring “further options”

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Beachgoers in Devon have been warned that parts of the sea near Exmouth could turn yellow or green as part of “investigative work” being carried out.

South West Water has confirmed that a “harmless” dye has been released into the sea at a popular UK beach as part of work to identify the site of a sewage “discharge point”.

Dye testing was carried out on parts of the sea at Exmouth beach in Devon on Wednesday morning (15 June) after requests from local residents to confirm the location of the discharge point from its outfall pipe.

The water company added that the public may see “yellow” or “green” discolouration to the sea near Maer Rocks but stressed the colouring would only be “temporary”.

South West Water has added that the test was "inconclusive" and it would "explore further options" to confirm the discharge location.

A spokesperson told NationalWorld: "The purpose of the dye test was to confirm the discharge location of our outfall pipe to provide reassurance to the community that our outfall functions as designed.

"Unfortunately, the test was inconclusive. We suspect this was due to lack of available water to flush the dye in the network out through the pipe.

Beachgoers warned sea could turn ‘yellow or green’ at popular seaside spot. (Photo: Delphotostock/Adobe Stock) Beachgoers warned sea could turn ‘yellow or green’ at popular seaside spot. (Photo: Delphotostock/Adobe Stock)
Beachgoers warned sea could turn ‘yellow or green’ at popular seaside spot. (Photo: Delphotostock/Adobe Stock)

The spokesperson said however, that the firm is “confident” that its storm overflow discharges from the allowed location.

They said that the test did confirm that the storm overflow does not discharge into nearby Littleham Brook “as the brook was flowing freely and no dye was visible from the outfall for the brook” and “there was also no evidence of a leak on Maer Rocks.”

The spokesperson added: “We would like to reassure local residents and visitors that the dye is harmless and other than a temporary colouring, will not affect bathing water quality or the wider ecology of the beach or Exe estuary”.

The dye testing comes after there have been concerns about sewage on the beach which was apparently later found to be rotten seaweed.

In March anti-sewage campaign group Surfers Against Sewage issued Exmouth beach with a sewage pollution alert urging people not to enter the sea.

Several more sewage alerts have been issued in recent days after raw waste was pumped into the sea following a storm.

Members of the public are being urged to not to swim or bathe in the sea at beaches along Fylde coast.

The Environment Agency on Twitter said it is “aware of the incident” and its teams have been assessing the impact.

United Utilities said “urgent repair work” is currently being carried out on the burst pipe which “is expected to take some time”.

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