This year’s alarming bathing water results expose 35 UK beaches failing to meet out-dated water quality and public health standards. 2012’s wet summer has shown the sewerage system just can’t cope. 2012’s poor performance will be highlighted in next year’s bathing water standards and again in 2015 when these shocking results are used for revised European bathing water standards based on 4 consecutive years of water quality results. The UK’s overburdened sewerage system is bursting at the seams, resulting in all too frequent raw sewage and storm water discharges nationwide. In response, SAS’s Sewage Alert Service has issued over 100,000 free real-time SMS warnings to beach users warning beach users of sewage pollution incidents. The vital Sewage Alert Service allows beach users to make informed decisions about how, when and where they should use the sea & protect themselves from polluted water. SAS is also using the data to build up a profile of priority beaches that urgently need water company attention and investment.
English beaches failing the 1976 EU Bathing Water Directive are:
There are a further 3 failures in Wales, 2 in Scotland and 1 in Northern Ireland.
At beaches meeting the basic mandatory standard bathers can still be presented with a 1 in 7 chance of contracting Gastro Enteritis. 93% of beaches only achieved the mandatory level. The health risk significantly rises for surfers as they immerse and ingest more frequently than the average bather.
SAS is predicting a dramatic rise in the numbers of failing bathing waters as the new tougher 2006 revised Bathing Water Directive standards strives to provide improved levels of public protection. Unfortunately the UK is once again poised to be labelled the dirty man of Europe.
The root cause for many of the failing bathing waters is the water industries over reliance of the Combine Sewer Overflow (CSO) as a means of sewage disposal. Last month the European Courts of Justice ruled the UK has breached the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91) with excessive discharges of raw sewage and stormwater via CSOs. The UK could face huge fines unless the water industry dramatically improves their sewerage network and reduces these discharges to the environment. CSOs should only be used to discharge raw sewage during extreme rainfall events. Over the summer months the UK experienced several weather systems that would meet this definition. But SAS is concerned that CSOs are used during light rainfall events when our sewerage system should be capable of treating the sewage.
The only tool water users have to avoid coming into contact with raw sewage discharged from any of the UK’s 31,000 CSOs is SAS’s Sewage Alert Service. The Sewage Alert Service is a free real time service updating water users online and via SMS text messages when a CSO is discharging raw sewage at their favourite beach. SAS have sent out over 100,000 free text messages warning water users at 170 beaches across the UK. The Sewage Alert Service can also help build a profile of priority beaches. At the top of SAS’s priority list are the following beaches:
This style of real time reporting of pollution incidents will be a requirement at Blue Flag beaches from 2013 onwards, as well as tougher new water quality standards. Surfers Against Sewage commend Keep Britain Tidy for ensuring Blue Flag beaches set the highest standards to protect the health of their users and from 2013, Blue Flag beaches will really earn their flags!
SAS Campaign Director, Andy Cummins says: “This year’s poor results should be a reality check to the water industry. Investments need to be made to ensure our seas are safe for water users and we are ready for tougher new standards. I’d urge anyone using the waters around the UK to sign up to SAS’s free Sewage Alert Service and know about water quality before you go in the sea.”
This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 at 7:45 am and is filed under News. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed.