The scene on the Gannel after the burst in April. ICTURE: BIG GREEN SURF SCHOOL

30th June 2021

By Warren Wilkins

The dilapidated sewer at the River Gannel is to be replaced as part of a £2.4m scheme after repeated leaks of raw sewage into the estuary.

South West Water is installing a new sewer, which will take a new route away from the estuary. The 50-year-old pipe that runs underneath the river has burst on several occasions. The scheme is expected to start in October and be completed by March.

The water company has made the improvement project a “top priority” after calls for action from residents, businesses, councillors, the environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage and Newquay MP Steve Double. The latest pollution incident on April 30 sent a “torrent” of raw sewage into the estuary.

Water sport enthusiasts and swimmers were warned to keep away from the River Gannel and Crantock Beach after the pipe burst. People believe the sewer pipe bursts because it can no longer cope with the amount of housing development in the area.

A South West Water spokesperson said: “Following the recent bursts on the sewer that runs under the River Gannel, we will be investing £2.4million in a scheme to replace the pipe. “The new sewer will be laid along a new route which will take it away from the Gannel and connect Crantock Beach Pumping Station directly to Newquay Wastewater Treatment Works. “

“This scheme is expected to begin in October 2021 and be completed in March 2022. We have also completed a number of activities at the pumping station to reduce pressure within the sewer, and invested in new pumps to manage flow, to reduce the risk of further bursts. We take our guardianship of the natural environment very seriously and want to do more.”

Mr Double said at the time of the last burst: “I was very disappointed to see the rising main sewer that runs alongside the Gannel Estuary burst again. “This is just not good enough and I urgently met with South West Water to get them to ensure this does not happen again.

“While their teams did work around the clock to repair the burst and ensure bathing water quality was not impacted and the local community and visitors could continue to use the beach, this has become a systemic and reoccurring issue and they need to take action to stop this continuing to be a problem. “

While South West Water have recently conducted operational interventions to reduce the pressure on the network, and investments in new pumps to manage flow, to reduce the risk of the sewer again bursting, it is clear these alone are not enough.

“I am pleased to see that South West Water have now committed to replacing the main as soon as feasible. “They have told me they are in regular engagement with the Environment Agency about their plans to do this as a top priority.”

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