Guide to Beach Live

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Step-by-step guide to how BeachLive works

  1. It's a beautiful autumn day and the Preston Sands beach at Paignton is showing 'Blue' on the Beach Live site. The 'Blue' symbol means that there is no increased risk to water quality from overflows from the sewerage system. However, weather forecasts indicate a storm might blow in over Paignton from the Channel later.
  2. The weather front drenches Paignton causing water to run off roads and driveways into storm water drains many of which are connected to the sewerage system. Tens of thousands of gallons are held in the storm tanks behind the seafront and at Preston Green.
  3. The continued rainfall means the sewer system around the town is at capacity and Brokenbury Waste Water Treatment Works is treating maximum volumes. The levels in the storm tanks at Preston Green reach overflow and the storm water is discharged through a screened combined sewer overflow (CSO) into the sea 280 metres from Preston Sands beach. This lessens the risk of sewage backing up through toilets into nearby low-lying properties.
  4. The event duration monitor (EDM) on the CSO measures an overflow lasting 8 minutes and relays a signal to South West Water's control room in Exeter.
  5. The overflow meets the 'significance' threshold set for the bathing water on the Beach Live system.
  6. The 'Blue' symbol on the Beach Live system is replaced by an 'Amber' warning light this is communicated to our stakeholders and SAS to send out alerts to their registered service users on the Safer Seas Service.
  7. The storm dies down and storm water in the system is passed forward to Brokenbury for treatment. Levels in the tank at Preston Green fall and there are no more significant overflows. The discharges which may have affected water quality are diluted by the sea and move away on the tide from the beach.
  8. After 12 hours with no more significant overflow events, the 'Amber' warning is withdrawn and the 'Blue' no increased risk symbol is reinstated on the BeachLive notification system.