Residents on the Fylde coast are being warned not to swim in the sea after untreated sewage was released into the water during thunderstorms.

Nearly 40mm of rain fell in around two hours last night (June 12) which meant the system temporarily reached full capacity at sites in Blackpool.

This meant untreated sewage, mixed with rainwater, was released into the sea.

United Utilities is carrying out urgent repair work to a burst pipe which carries water after it has been treated and cleaned from Fleetwood wastewater treatment works.

The treatment works is currently running on a reduced rate while engineers plan and carry out the repair work to the pipe, which lies nine metres underground.

Around 2,000 metres of temporary pumps and overland pipework is being installed and storage levels in the wastewater network along the Fylde Coast are being balanced.

As a result of the sewage release, Blackpool Council, Fylde Council, and Wyre Council are advising that the public should not swim at the following beaches until further notice:

  • Bispham
  • Blackpool Central
  • Blackpool North
  • Blackpool South
  • Cleveleys
  • Fleetwood
  • St Annes
  • St Annes North

Mark Garth, wastewater director at United Utilities, said: “This is a very unusual incident and our teams are working around the clock to minimise any impact on the environment. The burst occurred on a large pipe which is deep underground, making the repair complex and challenging.

“We are installing temporary overland pipework to bypass the burst pipe so that the treatment plant can continue to operate while the repair work is carried out.

“The reduced capacity at the treatment works and in our network as a result of this burst meant there was less storage available than normal to deal with the heavy rainfall last night.

“This resulted in storm overflows operating. We are working closely with the Environment Agency and local councils as we respond to this.”

Construction of the temporary overland pipework means the neighbouring Fleetwood Marsh Nature Reserve will also be closed to the public until further notice.