Florescent dye test for the water off Exmouth beach aims to address pollution fears

Florescent dye will be added to the water at Exmouth beach after the community called for an investigation into a sewage outlet.

South West Water (SWW) has announced it is dye testing water off Maer Rocks,  Exmouth, from 8.30am on Wednesday, June 14, after residents raised concerns about black sewage seen on the beach.

Exmouth Town Council, backing the testing, said the aim of the dye testing was to ‘demonstrate the water company’s commitment to openness and transparency’, pinpoint the location of the storm overflow pipe – where extra rainwater or wastewater is released into rivers or seas – and to ‘create confidence’ through showing how the set-up works.

SWW said the yellow-green florescent dye was harmless to water quality and wildlife and would ‘take some time’ to move through the water network.

A South West Water spokesperson said: “On 14 June, we will be carrying out investigative work at Maer Rocks in Exmouth involving dye testing.

“The work follows a request from the local community for us to confirm the location of the discharge point from our outfall pipe.

“As a result, customers may notice some yellow/green discolouration to the sea near Maer Rocks on Wednesday morning.

“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.

“We thank customers for their patience while we carry out this work.”

Exmouth Town Council said the timing of the test had been planned to ensure optimum tidal conditions for the process to take place.

It said the testing would prompt the council to push for a simpler alarm system, because there was ‘much confusion’ over the current method.

Councillor Olly Davey, town mayor, said: “ We are really pleased that South West Water has agreed to carry out the dye testing.

“This will go a long way to reassure the local community and help with understanding the issues involved.

“We will also be pushing for the alert system to be clarified and possibly simplified as there is much confusion over when a discharge actually takes place.”

The town council said recent reports of sewage, turning sand black in the the area of Maer Rocks, was found to be rotting seaweed.

A town council spokeswoman said: “South West Water internal tests and the Environment Agency’s independent investigation have conclusively shown that the reported incidents were unrelated to South West Water’s infrastructure or sewage systems.

“However, in an effort to address any concerns from residents and demonstrate its commitment to openness and transparency, South West Water have decided to conduct dye testing in the area.”

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