Press release

Water company fails to act fast enough on major sewage spill

South West Water have been fined £28,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £3,935 after failing to respond speedily enough to a sewage spill caused by a blockage at the Milford Park pumping station, Teignmouth, Devon.

The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

On 27June 2013, the pumping station at Milford Park became partially blocked when a penstock valve broke and fell into the 30 per cent shut position.

Sewage accumulated in the pumping station and in the surrounding sewers until it spilled from 3 locations – the rugby club combined sewage outflow which leads into the Bitton Brook for 18 hours, from Milford Park into the Teign Estuary for 16 hours and also a manhole adjacent to the rugby club.

Starting at 8.50pm, alarms and signals were transmitted from Milford Park pumping station to South West Water’s control centre, warning of the problems . The court heard that there had been an hour and a half delay on South West Water’s part in responding to the alarms.

Richard Fisher for the Environment Agency said:

South West Water had already recorded the site as at risk after a large rag ball had been trapped in the pumping station. The company had arranged for the rag ball to be removed on 4 July. This made the problems experienced on 27 June worse but did not cause them. The sewage spill affected the nearby beaches at Teignmouth with 2 bathing water beaches failing the water quality testing standards on the day.

The court heard that South West Water had improved the works at the Milford Park pmping station.