Thanet tourism blow after sewage discharge closes beaches
Businesses have reacted angrily after swimmers were warned against going into the sea at nine beaches around Thanet following pumping station discharges.
Thanet Council has advised people not to enter the sea between Walpole Bay and Dumpton Gap.
Hotel owner Jane Bishop said she was worried visitors would leave the area.
Southern Water said it had done nothing wrong by releasing storm water from its stations at Foreness Point and Broadstairs.
Signs have been erected on beaches telling swimmers not to enter parts of the beach which are below the high water mark.
Labour councillor for Thanet, Richard Nicholson, called the closures "a real kick in the teeth" for tourists, residents and local businesses.
Jane Bishop, who runs the Walpole Bay Hotel, said she was concerned the numbers of visitors would now fall in the area as "our whole industry down here depends mainly on tourism at the moment."
She said her guests would "probably be really upset and they'll probably check out and go somewhere else".
"Southern water has to get their act together and design a system where this doesn't happen", Ms Bishop said.
Geoff Loader, director of communications at Southern Water, said: "The plant has done what it should. We have operated within the environmental guidelines.
"The plant has successfully stopped flooding in the area."
He said screened storm water had been "heavily diluted" and released "a long way off the shoreline".
"If we want to improve on the system in years to come then there's an engineering cost and we have to consider if that's appropriate," Mr Loader said.
The Met Office had warned of heavy rain in the Thanet area on Monday afternoon and evening.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: "In response to the overnight reports of discharges of sewage from Southern Water Services pumping stations we are supporting Thanet District Council with ongoing environmental assessments.
"Our staff have also been providing updates to members of public and businesses whilst conducting water quality monitoring at a number of Thanet's bathing waters."
The council previously warned swimmers about entering the sea in the area in May following a discharge of raw sewage.
Thanet District Council said officers were working with the Environment Agency to reduce the impact of the discharges while Southern Water contractors were working to clear the waterline.
It added that beach areas above the waterline were still open to the public.