Swimmers in Cleethorpes want action over sewage in sea and rivers

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Image source, Will Reddaway
Image caption,
Paddleboarders and swimmers say the River Humber and sea at Cleethorpes has seen increasing amounts of sewage

Swimmers and paddleboarders say they have seen a growing amount of "sewage, wipes and sanitary products" in the rivers and sea around Lincolnshire.

One group in Cleethorpes said the issue is becoming "more prevalent" and called for tighter controls on pollution.

Regional water supplier Anglian Water said it was not aware of any recent sewage discharges in the area.

MPs have agreed water companies should be "forced" to be more proactive in improving water quality.

Image caption,
Paddleboarder Andrew Johnson said sewage in the sea and river at Cleethorpes had been getting more prevalent

Paddleboarders around Cleethorpes said there had been 21 pollution alerts in the area and 16 more along the coast at Humberston, an increase on last year.

Instructor Caroline Carr said: "We were doing an evening paddleboard session in the sea at Brighton Slipway [in Cleethorpes], and sewage and wipes and sanitary products were visible."

Andrew Johnson, who swims or paddleboards in the River Humber every week, said he believes water companies should do more to protect the environment.

Anglian Water said it was not aware of any sewage discharge in the area but said it had seen "storm related activity" following heavy rainfall in the area.

A spokesperson said "these discharges would have been predominantly rain water" and any activity was "in line with out permits".

The Environment Agency allows water utilities to release sewage into rivers and streams after extreme weather events, such as prolonged heavy rain.

This protects properties from flooding and prevents sewage from backing up into streets and homes.

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers said while government bodies can enforce existing legislation, it "clearly needs stepping up", adding that water companies and regulators must be "forced" to be more proactive in order to make a difference to water quality.

Anglia Water added that it did not believe the existing permits were "fit for purpose" and called for increased funding to tackle the problem of overloaded sewers and other environmental improvements.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the amount of sewage pumped into the rivers and sea is "unacceptable", adding: "We are the first government to take action on this, but it won't be solved overnight and will need significant investment."

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