Totnes magistrates heard the local authority had to put out red flags on Dawlish’s Town beach to warn swimmers at the start of the annual carnival on 12 August 2006.
South West Water had registered an alarm from Viaduct pumping station the previous day and informed its maintenance contractor, Engenica. The company, since bought by Veolia, provided the water firm with a 24-hour emergency call-out service.
Pumps at the station had stopped working but it took 19 hours for someone to arrive at the site to fix the problem. About 500-600 tonnes of sewage were discharged into the sea, polluting the water with bacteria and viruses.
Veolia pleaded guilty to causing sewage effluent to be discharged into controlled waters, contrary to section 85(3) of the Water Resources Act 1991. South West Water was also fined over the incident in December last year (ENDS Report 396, pp 56-57 ).