Water quality

SAS campaigns

The last 25 years has seen a dramatic improvement in coastal water quality thanks to strong EU legislation and committed campaigning from SAS and other environmental organisations. In 2016, 98.5% of England’s bathing waters passed the EU Bathing Water Directive’s standards, compared to only 27% achieving this standard in 1990, when SAS was launched in the face of the woeful water quality.

Widespread ‘Excellent’ water quality results last year pointed to the success of Surfers Against Sewage campaigns over the past decade, calling for cleaner bathing waters through an enhanced and improved Bathing Water Directive designed to better protect surfers, beachgoers and recreational water users. These higher standards mean that the 625 designated bathing waters around the UK are now scrutinised weekly on improved bacterial levels during the bathing season for the benefit of surfers, swimmers and holidaymakers alike. The Sewage Free Seas campaign also highlighted the need and mechanism to monitor and investigate any residual water quality impacts from the emergency sewer overflow system.

Surfers Against Sewage has been at the forefront of real-time water quality information provision since 2008, which coupled with the EU Bathing Water Directive testing programme, now provides some of the strongest public health protection for water users in the world. As part of our commitment to providing the best possible water quality protection and information, Surfers Against Sewage also continues to promote sophisticated real-time water quality alerts through the Safer Seas Service to safeguard water users from reductions in water quality between weekly Environment Agency tests, driven by rainfall, sewer overflow discharges and diffuse pollution from farm and urban environments. The Safer Seas Service provides free real-time water quality information for 330 beaches across England and Wales. Our vision is to provide real-time and predictive water quality information for all beaches in the UK.

Surfers Against Sewage is calling for more ongoing action to protect and improve our bathing waters including:

  • Mandatory year-round sewer overflow warnings introduced for all affected UK beaches regularly used by the public to protect public heath where the current water quality-testing regime fails to.
  • An extension to the bathing season, when our water quality is tested and best protected.
  • Safeguarding & improving the Bathing Water Directive post Brexit,  ensuring bathing water quality continues to be tested at the appropriate time and in the appropriate place to protect all water users.
  • Increasing water company obligations to introduce more effective and faster investment to remove current sewer overflow assets with priority awarded to sensitive areas such as bathing waters, recreational watersports zones and Sites of Special Surfing Interest.

Water quality priority projects: The Safer Seas Service, Human Health & Wellbeing, Cleaner Coastal Catchments.

Water Quality Campaigns

Below are links to Water Quality related SAS campaigns…

Safer Seas Service

Safer Seas Service

The Safer Seas Service is the only national service to inform you, in real time, when sewage & diffuse pollution is reducing water quality at beaches.

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Sewage Free Seas

Sewage Free Seas

The Sewage Free Seas campaign encouraged all water users to support the fullest possible investigations and action when sewer overflows discharge on UK beaches.

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Human Health & Wellbeing

Human Health & Wellbeing

Surfer & SAS member Dr Dave Baglow explains the potential risks of mixing with sewage.

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CSOs

CSOs

There are approximately 31,000 Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) around the UK. Their sole purpose is to discharge untreated human sewage and waste-water when the sewerage system is overloaded.

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Diffuse pollution / SUDs

Diffuse pollution / SUDs

Water quality can also be reduced by diffuse pollution, which is the term given to pollution from multiple, often unidentified sources. When these sources combine, they can often have a significant impact on water quality.

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Fats, Oils & Greases

Fats, Oils & Greases

Unfortunately, our beaches suffer significantly due to the huge volume of fats, oils and greases (FOGs) wrongly poured down kitchen sinks.

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UV sewage treatment

UV sewage treatment

Unless sewage effluent is fully treated either using ultra-violet disinfection or micro-filtration it will contain high levels of human-derived bacteria and viruses.

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Bathing season extension

Bathing season extension

Surfers Against Sewage is calling on the UK surfing and recreational water sports community to support its calls for a longer bathing season, during which beach water quality is monitored to protect the health of those using it...

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SAS History

SAS History

This year we'll be making a documentary about the evolution of SAS over the last 25 years.

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