SOUTH West Water said it’s working to reduce run off pollution entering the River Dart from Dartmouth’s Warfleet Creek Pumping Station.

In an annual report on sewage spills Warfleet was found to have the highest number of spills in England in 2022 – a total number of 364 spills, amounting to 644.77 hours pumping pollution into the estuary. South West Water, which racked up 290,271 hours of spillage time across its whole region, was the second worst offender in the country behind United Utilities in the North West.

A South West Water spokesperson said the problem is ground water ingress entering the storm tank at Warfleet Creek on a regular basis.

They added: “When the level within the storm tank is high enough the storm pumps will start to empty the clean water back into the environment. The event duration monitor is linked to the storm pumps running. Each time a pump event occurs a spill event is logged.

“We are investigating the source of the infiltration to prevent this from occurring, and have optimised the storm pumps, which has already seen a dramatic decrease in spill count that we’ll be reporting this year. We’ve been working hard to reduce the impact of storm overflows and in the last bathing season saw a 50 per cent reduction in spills on the previous year, with the duration of those spills down by 75 per cent. However, we recognise there is more to do.”

Warfleet Creek is a popular place for water sports but it’s not a designated bathing water beach like Sugary Cove and Dartmouth Castle.

Dart Harbour advise those using the River Dart that there are a number of untreated waste water outflows onto the river.

They said: “These outflows are more likely to operate following heavy rain, when water flowing down drains overwhelms the capacity of the sewage treatment plants. SWW has invested millions of pounds improving the waste water infrastructure on the Dart and are continuing to upgrade the infrastructure to reduce these outflows.”

County and District Cllr Jonathan Hawkinssaid: “Warfleet Creek is a much-loved recreational area, well used by swimmers and river users, so for this to come out as an area of concern is worrying. Anthony Mangnall MP has heard from South West Water the issue is not sewage but run off from the streams and drains in the surrounding area. I’ve requested a meeting with SWW.”

Antony Mangnall MP added:“I’ve been assured SWW has been investigating the source of the infiltration, and optimised the storm pumps to prevent this occurring. This has already seen a dramatic decrease in the spill count. I’ve arranged an onsite meeting to discuss what more can be done to ensure this popular swimming spot is not affected by pollution.”