Our interactive map allows you to see if any of our storm overflows have been operating at your local beach to an extent that they may have temporarily affected bathing water.
For more information about storm overflows, what we’re doing to reduce their impact and how you can help do your bit visit our main Storm Overflow page.
Put a postcode or place name into the search bar. When the map zooms in click on the coloured pin for a status.
Pin colours change according to data we receive, our detailed local knowledge of the bathing water environment and how storm overflows may temporarily affect them.
Condition of the bathing water is not affected by overflows
Condition of the bathing water may be affected by the operation of overflows
Monitors undergoing maintenance, investigation or improvement
By clicking the ‘More information about this beach’ link, you can see the location of overflows impacting the beach, investment information up to 2025, and the history of bathing water quality at that location where applicable.
We know that as a water company, we have a big part to play in improving our network and reducing the number of discharges. We also know there's lots more work to do.
We're inviting local community and stakeholder groups to work with us, as we consider where we need to prioritise our investment for 2025.
Our WaterFit Live interactive beach map allows you to see if any of our storm overflows have been operating at your local beach to an extent that they may have temporarily affected bathing water.
It does not identify impacts from any other sources, such as agricultural runoff (pesticides, fertilisers and animal slurry) and urban runoff (from roads carrying pollutants like oil, diesel and petrol).
If you click on an individual beach pin you will get more information about that beach. This includes overflow locations, the status of individual overflows, the last time the monitoring system has been in operation or ‘activated’ and our investment commitments.
Storm overflows, also known as Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), are built into the sewerage network and may operate automatically during heavy rainfall to protect properties, businesses and streets from flooding.
Heavy or prolonged rainfall puts pressure on the combined sewer as there isn’t always enough capacity in the network to contain such volumes. Storm overflows are designed to act as a safety valve by discharging automatically into the sea or a river when this happens.
The process is strictly regulated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency.
We’ve produced a handy animation to show how and when storm overflows operate, see our storm overflows page.
Rest assured we have been working hard to reduce the operation of storm overflows, cutting their use by 50% in 2022, with their duration down by 75%, across our 860 miles of coastline. However, we recognise there is more to do, and we have plans to do it.
We’ve made a commitment to reduce spills from storm overflows to an average of 20 per year by 2025 across the region.
We’re also investing at every one of our designated bathing waters to reduce spills to even lower levels. This accelerated investment enables us to go further and faster in delivering for customers, communities, and the environment.
Our WaterFit programme sets out our commitments and plans to deliver more for our beautiful southwest region.
We’re constantly improving and investing in our network to increase its holding capacity, including installing more storm storage and bigger sewers. We’re also working with other agencies to separate out surface water from our sewerage systems to reduce the pressure on them.
The cost, both financially and environmentally, to remove all storm overflows would be substantial. It would cost billions and cause major disruption digging up urban and rural areas.
Whilst we are investing in our network it’s important to recognise that we can’t increase the capacity infinitely to hold ever growing volumes. That’s why we have teams to identify surface water misconnections and help reduce blockages, which restrict flow in the network. We also liaise with developers, planners and highways departments to help prevent excess surface water entering our network.
Climate change is placing extra demands on our infrastructure with a greater number of periods of intense, heavy rainfall. This presents challenges in managing the sheer volume of flows in our network and we know this will be ever-increasing.
But there are other challenges – such as a 20% increase in population in the South West over the last 30 years.
Tourism has also doubled visitors to the region in the last 15 years.
We model and forecast the impact of an increasing population and the impacts of climate change on our network. We then invest to improve our network. We are working hard to meet these demands and our WaterFit investment programme is designed to reduce the use of storm overflows.
Our notification system allows for full tidal exchange at the beach and so notifications can remain in place for longer than the rainfall event that caused them to be issued.
Whilst some storm overflows will be impacted immediately, through heavy downpours, larger catchment areas can take longer to drain down and so the overflow may operate after the rainfall has passed through.
Some of the overflows that are used in our system are also located a long way inland away from the beach. So, it may be sunny on the coast, but it could be the rainfall inland which is causing the notification to be issued.
Also, in the winter when excessive rain can’t be absorbed into oversaturated ground, it can continue to make its way to a channel or drain or straight into the sewerage network triggering a storm overflow.
Our monitoring system lets us know when there’s been activity at a storm overflow. The individual monitors can be sensitive and sometimes can be triggered by leaves or a twig and therefore indicate the overflow is in use when it isn't.
Blockages can play a part too. A blockage in the network downstream or close to a storm overflow can cause the flow to back up and discharge.Caring for your sewerage
Event Duration Monitors (EDMs) are installed on 100% of our overflows. They use sensors to measure the level of flow in our assets. These sensors trigger an alert to us when the level reaches the overflow point, indicating when the overflow is likely to be discharging.
They measure the start and end time of any overflow operations. Our monitors are not able to measure the quality or volume of the flow being discharged.
The monitors are sensitive and sometimes can play up. Small things like leaves, twigs or spider webs can trigger them, indicating that the overflow is in use when it isn't.
Our team will go and check if the data indicates there might be an issue with a monitor. We then work hard to get it back into service as quickly as possible.
Storm overflows are designed to only operate during periods of intense rainfall, any sewage or wastewater discharged from them will be very diluted as it is mixed with the large volumes of rainwater flowing through the network.
Storm water storage tanks help capture some of the sewer debris through settlement. There are also screens on most storm overflows to help prevent this from entering the water.
A number of factors influence water quality and we understand how easily the cause of an issue may be misinterpreted or misrepresented.
Surface runoff from roads, hard surfaces and fields is the most common factors which cause discolouration of the water at beaches. Algal blooms and seaweed can also make the sea look discoloured, smell or cause foam on the surface.
Misconnected pipes can also play a part, particularly in urban areas. A misconnection usually occurs when a home or building is newly constructed or extended and the pipes are plumbed incorrectly into surface water drains without our knowledge. Once these misconnections are identified, we will ensure that the private plumbing is corrected, and will notify Building Control if their more extensive powers are required.
Agricultural runoff is the biggest polluter of rivers and waterways as it often carries along pesticides, fertilisers and animal slurry. Urban runoff from roads can also carry pollutants like oil, diesel and petrol.
We’re proud to say though that all of our monitored beaches passed the standards for bathing water quality for the second time in a row in 2022.
The Environment Agency provide data on other sources of potential pollution.Learn about storm overflows
An amber pin notification tells you that an overflow, or overflows, associated with a beach may have temporarily affected the bathing water. The process for changing the colour of the pin from blue to amber is rigorous and based on a mixture of specialist equipment, modelling calculations and local knowledge.
Firstly, the technology on each storm overflow (known as Event Duration Monitors) will let us know if there has been a discharge.
The next stage is with our team of experts who need to verify that the data received is accurate. They will cross check it with things such as the weather - has there been heavy rain? or if there are any issues in the network - could there be a blockage? They may even need to physically go out and check everything is working as it should and undertake sampling.
They will also rule out what we call a ‘false positive’, where things such as debris around the sensors, triggers an activation when nothing has been discharged.
The length of time an overflow can be in use before we raise an amber alert varies based on the following factors:
It is important to note that the South West’s bathing waters are typically fully tidal. The means they are swept within one full turn of the tide which is 12.5 hours.
Once a full tidal exchange has happened and there are no other variable factors, the pin will be turned back to blue, and bathing waters will be deemed as not affected by overflows.
Our beach level map shows whether one or more overflows have been operating to a level that they may temporarily affect the bathing water. It shows a view for the overall beach and not for individual overflows.
The Overflow map shows a greater level of detail, for each individual overflow. It has a traffic light notification which shows whether the overflow monitoring system for each individual overflow is currently active or not, and/or if it has been activated within the last 24 hours.
It also shows where overflow monitors are located and where the overflow outlets are positioned. More than one monitoring point may be associated with the same outlet location.
Not all monitor activations necessarily mean that a discharge is actually happening. Several factors can affect this monitoring.
See our FAQ: How do you know that a storm overflow is active and is the information accurate?
Overflows associated with a bathing water are assessed to calculate how long they may operate before bathing water may be temporarily affected. The length of time is calculated using factors such as proximity to bathing waters, size of overflow and local tidal conditions.
If the assessed time threshold is reached, an amber pin alert will show up on the beach level map. This notification will also be sent to Beach Managers, the Environment Agency and Surfers Against Sewage.
So, it is possible to see a blue pin status, indicating that bathing water is not temporarily affected by overflows on our beach level map, when our overflow location map shows there is an active monitor on an overflow.
To learn more about how an amber alert is triggered on the beach level map see our animation.
On the Overflow map you can see whether our monitoring systems indicate that an overflow is currently active or not. You can also see the last time it was in use, and for how long. This information is near real-time and is unaudited and unverified.
The information shown in the 3-year overflow spill chart is the audited data providing annual spill information post bathing season and is collated in the format specified by the Environment Agency. It groups spill events based on time periods from the start of an overflow event.
We work with the Environment Agency to identify which overflows may affect the bathing water and what improvements may be required. We use combined knowledge of the wider bathing water catchment, overflow performance, bathing water quality data, an understanding of river flows and/or the tidal regime at each bathing water to make informed decisions.
Not all bathing waters in our region are affected by overflows. 55 of the 151 designated bathing waters have no associated overflows.
Our Beach map uses overflow data to provide advice on the potential risk to the bathing water from those overflows at beach level. It is not providing the individual overflow event data that generates the notification. An amber pin is returned to a blue pin after there has been a full tidal cycle, approximately 12.5 hours, with no further overflow discharges of a duration which would trigger a further alert.
Our Overflow Location map is simply representing in near real-time whether an overflow is operating now or has done so in the last 24 hours from the end of the last overflow event. There is no interpretation of any potential effect on bathing water associated with this data, or the operation of the overflow, and the use of a 24-hour period is simply to provide recent context on the performance of the overflow.
Where we have problems with signals from site, communications or the monitor has broken then we can set the monitor into ‘maintenance’ mode. This means that we cannot confirm if the overflow at this location is operating or not.
This can be due to telecoms fault, sensor damaged due to debris in the sewerage network, or where we are undergoing engineering improvements at the asset to reduce storm overflow discharges.
We aim to bring monitors back into service as quickly as possible and we report on this.
SAS keep warnings on bathing beaches live for a longer period of time.
Alerts on our WaterFit Live map will be taken down after 12.5hrs, providing there are no other known factors from our assets, that may temporarily affect bathing water quality.
Their system also includes the Environment Agency’s Pollution Risk Forecasts (PRF), which are based on rainfall, wind and tidal factors affecting the bathing water catchment and therefore all other potential sources.
For more information on other factors that can affect bathing water quality reporting visit the Environment Agency’s website: Bathing water quality (data.gov.uk)
Our Beach map shows the impact of overflows on water quality at a beach.
We also include detailed information of individual overflows. To view this, click on an individual beach pin.
By providing two levels of information, we are giving customers more useful data on potential impacts to bathing water, as well as detailed information about activations at individual overflows.
But this is just the next step on our journey to providing more transparency for customers. In the future we will be looking to provide near real-time data for all the overflows across our network, including those at rivers.
We are inviting local community and stakeholder groups, to work with us to help us consider where to prioritise our investment from 2025.
The knowledge you hold about your bathing water is invaluable. We know the bathing waters in our region really well, but we also know that so much insight lies with our customers and beach communities.
As we begin refining our investment programme from 2025-2030, we are inviting local community and stakeholder groups, including Parish and Town Councils, to help us prioritise that investment. If you want to get involved fill in the form below. Please note you’ll need to be part of a group to submit.