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What an improved Beachbuoy means for you

Luke Hyttner from our Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force explains what Beachbuoy is, how it is being improved, and what that will mean for our communities. 

Luke Hyttner from our Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force explains what Beachbuoy is, how it is being improved, and what that will mean for our communities. 

Beachbuoy is a web application that provides members of the public with near-real time information about storm overflow releases along our region’s coastline.  

Not only does this tool say when these events have happened, it also uses clever tidal modelling to indicate if these may have impacted water quality at bathing locations, as designated by the Environment Agency.  

We present this to our communities in the form of an interactive map and table of all storm overflow releases. This means Beachbuoy users can either use the map to focus on a particular beach to understand any recent events and any possible water quality impact, or browse the table to view a full record of releases for any storm overflow location.  

Either way, we don’t hide any data and want to be transparent as possible. We were the first water company to create a tool like Beachbuoy, and ever since we’ve worked with a wide range of partners, including environmental groups, to make sure it’s continually reviewed and improvements made – so it works for everyone.  

Why we needed an independent Beachbuoy Review? 

As part of our ongoing programme of improvements, we worked with our partners to commission an independent review of Beachbuoy, which has now been published. It was important we got external feedback on what was working well for our community and other audiences, and what needed more work.  

During a full and frank assessment of Beachbuoy, experts focused on four key themes: 

  • Compliance with legislation and regulations
  • Data Accuracy and reliability 
  • How easy it is for people to navigate and use 
  • The application of tidal modelling  

From interrogating these areas, and via interviews with users, stakeholders and our colleagues, the report arrived at various recommendations of next steps and how to prioritise their importance. It also included our response to each point raised and when we aim to deliver the solution; the good news is, we had already addressed some of these points and the team have started implementing others too. 

Points raised by the review included: 

  • Strong compliance with industry standards and sharing of data with regulators 
  • Need for a larger stakeholder group of users to collaborate on improvements 
  • Upgrades needed to make tool more user friendly, and include more information. 

What now? 

Many of the recommendations put forward, we’ve already been working on, including introducing better data back-ups, more intelligence on water quality impact and upgrading the look and feel of the tool for users. 

We welcome this report and the support it offers in growing the platform. This will help us as we aim to launch a new version of Beachbuoy in spring 2024, which will also include details of releases into inland watercourses. 

We’re absolutely committed to reducing storm overflows across our region. This is why we recently announced our £1.5 billion Clean Rivers and Seas Plan to protect and enhance our environment. As we make progress in this area, Beachbuoy will continue to help us be as transparent as possible about when overflows happen and what impact they have.