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 and to safeguard the environment. Thanks in large part to SAS campaigns, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has recently opened a new online consultation on the length of the bathing season and associated implications for water quality, protecting human health and the environment.
The bathing season is the only time of the year when beaches designated as bathing waters have their water quality monitored and published. The bathing season in England currently runs from May 15th until September 30th, but SAS has consistently called for an extension to better protect surfers, bathers and the coastal environment. We are encouraging the public to support an extension of the bathing season, especially for important and well-used recreational waters, including important surf spots. A longer season would deliver significant advantages including:
- Improved water quality thanks to restrictions of raw sewage and stormwater discharges from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) within the bathing season.
- Increased public information on water quality, allowing water users to make informed decisions about how, when and where they use the sea.
- Environment Agency water quality test results are posted throughout the bathing season. SAS’s Sewage Alert Service also informs water users about CSO discharges at over 260 beaches within the bathing season. Some water companies withhold this information outside the bathing season.
- Coastal communities will benefit from longer bathing seasons with potentially increasing visitor numbers and associated trade outside the traditional summer holiday season, including several half terms, bank holidays and all-importantly Easter.
With the affordability and advances in wetsuit technology people can today enjoyably use the sea for hours at a time, throughout the year. The best surfing seasons, when waves are at their very best in England, also fall outside the current bathing season window. Scores of surfers and other wave-riders flock to popular surf spots throughout the year, with the months of March, April, October and November offering some the highest quality surfing conditions.