Several of my titles have been following the water companies and reporting on the outrage as they pump sewage into our rivers.

In and around Andover, the topic has particularly rife. A 30-year high in ground water levels, has led to pumping of wastewater into the River Test.

Not only has the pumping of waste into this precious resource angered and appalled residents, the distribution from tankers has also upset quiet village life.  

The issue has caught the attention of Crown star James Murray – whose presence at protests has helped promote the cause of a group called Activist Anglers.

A petition called on Southern Water to stop pumping wastewater into the river – and it attracted more than 1,000 signatures in just more than 24 hours.

Southern Water says it has been forced to dump the sewage, to prevent it backing up into people’s homes, after its Fullerton wastewater works was overloaded.

It says it has been lining the network with a special sheath and says that it will be working to fix pipes, with more than 500 homes in Kimpton, Thruxton and East Cholderton already being relined, but we might have to wait until 2030 to see the entire project completed.

And it’s doing nothing illegal, current regulations allow water companies to discharge raw sewage during extreme rainfall.

Nobody could argue that this has not been a pretty rubbish year so far weather wise, with this month in particular being wet and miserable.

Pressure on the network from bad weather may be one reason for this problem being arguably the worst it has ever been, but also pressure from new housing has not helped.

As councils race to meet housing targets set by central government, it seems the rush to build new properties is overtaking infrastructure.

I am writing this piece from a holiday let in North Devon. Of course, it is Easter and school holidays so we didn’t really expect anything other than rain and wind, but Storm Kathleen has also swept in.

Kathleen brought with her high winds, spectacular for watching waves crash against the shore but not so great for a family holiday. Despite this, we’ve been braving the weather, and making the most of being near the coast by going on long walks on the many beautiful beaches.

A trip to Croyde yesterday, a glorious vast stretch of sand surrounded by sand dunes, was exhilarating and refreshing – but also eye-opening for all the wrong reasons.

My young daughter wanted to go barefoot on the sand and paddle in the stream that runs into the sea. Yes it was cold, but she didn’t mind, she’s only four. It’s a simple pleasure, being able to feel the sand between your toes and one that we have taken for granted countless times before.

However this time, with the backdrop of Southern Water’s actions into the River Test weighing heavily on my mind, it was with great trepidation that we allowed her to take her shoes and socks off.

We checked the app – Safer Seas and Rivers Service – and could see all the alarming red crosses that Storm Kathleen had brought to the UK coastline.

Hampshire Chronicle: A screenshot from Safer Rivers and Seas app

Croyde thankfully had a green tick, meaning no recent sewage discharges, but all the neighbouring beaches had discharges within the last 24 hours. One further down the coast in Cornwall, Perranporth even had an Environment Agency warning for pollution.

As we walked along Croyde beach, it was clear to see the storm had brought in with it lots of rubbish. As well as the standard driftwood and seaweed, broken plastic seemed to be one of the main pollutants of this wonderful stretch. Sharp shards of colourful plastic, broken bottles, bits so small you couldn’t make out what they had come from, were littered along the sand. Of course, plastic in the sea is another problem entirely, but another alarming issue.

However, it was when we reached the sea and could quite clearly see suds and sewage, that we swiftly whipped our daughter’s shoes back on. I left that beach feeling disappointed and saddened, not only with South West Water for discharging raw sewage, but also with humankind that we can be so disrespectful of our wonderful seas and rivers.