Q&A with I&E Chief Officer, Andy Scate, on Sewage Treatment Works

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Earlier this week, Islanders were advised not to swim in the bay, as a precaution, due to concerns about the standard of the discharge from the Sewage Treatment Works (STW). 

What has happened?

Environmental and biological issues mean the discharge from the Sewage Treatment Works (STW) is temporarily not at its usual standard.

Warm weather, little rainfall, a lower-than-normal biological load arriving at the STW, higher than usual ammonia levels and biological factors are all thought to have contributed to the reduced effluent quality.

This has resulted in poor bacterial effectiveness for treatment, which then goes on to affect the final discharge.

Why can’t I go in the sea in St Aubin’s Bay

As a precaution, we are advising against swimming in St Aubin’s Bay.

Seawater sampling has taken place this week, and further testing will take place over the forthcoming days to tell us more about the bacteria levels.

What can you tell us about the test results so far?

Test results from routine samples taken on Tuesday at La Haule and Victoria Pool were both found to be “excellent” on the EU Bathing Water Directive scale. 

Extra results from samples taken on Thursday at Victoria Pool (Castle Side and Midbay), La Haule, Bel Croute and Havre des Pas pool all also showed an “excellent” standard.  

However, the undiluted sample taken directly at the First Tower outfall on Thursday was poor. In comparison, bathing water samples are taken under specific conditions including depth of the water. 

Do I need to be aware of anything as a dog walker?

It is fine to walk your dog on St Aubin’s Bay, but we would advise that you do not allow your dog into the sea as a precaution.

Is raw sewage going into the sea?

No. The sewage going into the sea has gone through the Sewage Treatment works and has been treated, but not as thoroughly as we would like.

The tests will tell us more about the bacteria levels in the sea and we will then be able to advise when it is ok to resume swimming in St Aubin’s Bay.

What should I do if I’ve been in the sea in St Aubin’s Bay and feel unwell?

Our advice is that if anyone has been swimming and has health concerns, they should speak to their GP. Increased bacteria if ingested could result in gastro illness such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Swimwear and towels should be thoroughly washed.

Is the Jersey Triathlon still going ahead?

We are in touch with the Triathlon organisers and will keep them regularly updated.

Is this the multi-million pounds new Sewage Treatment Works malfunctioning? 

No. The environmental factors such as the warm weather and reduced load coming into the STW at the moment, along with biological factors in the STW, mean that the discharge going out isn’t at its usual standards. 

How is the issue going to be sorted?

The team at the STW are working on a number of options, but because of the outfall quality, the UV plant cannot guarantee a 100% success rate and therefore water quality from a health perspective is being compromised. 

The STW team are liaising with the Environmental Health team and the Environmental Regulator. We have placed signs on the beach to warn swimmers. 

When will this be resolved?

It is unclear how long this will go on for.

Further testing of seawater in St Aubin’s Bay is taking place over the forthcoming days.

Who do I contact for more advice?

The Environmental and Consumer Protection switchboard 445 808 is open for public health advice from 8am.