Poor quality bathing water threatened the future of the small coastal resort of Combe Martin in Devon. South West Water, the regional water company, commissioned our team to investigate the causes and recommend solutions.
Our work identified misconnections in the catchment, and the impermeable area survey discovered other problems. Foul water sources from farms and tourist attractions and CCTV surveys of the sewer network revealed further threats to water quality. The best next steps? Reducing quantities of the three main sources of bacteria infiltration—namely human, canine, and ruminant—together with hydraulic modelling of the sewerage network to identify refurbishment work would be critical to improving water quality.
We also managed engagement with local groups to raise awareness of methods to improve the quality of the catchment’s bathing water. Furthermore, through a pilot scheme, we demonstrated that storm overflow frequency and volume could be reduced through the installation of water butts in Combe Martin.
Improvements recommended by the project have increased the quality of Combe Martin’s bathing water—with “good” status being achieved in November 2022.
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