Today (15th May 2016) is the official start of the 2016 Bathing Season in England and Wales (the Scottish and Northern Irish Bathing Seasons begin 1st June), and along with it, the Safer Seas Service is back fully online.
This year SAS will provide free, real-time water quality information at 330 beaches around England and Wales, with more sophisticated data coverage than ever before. The Safer Seas Service provides real-time water quality data from water company CSO assets at 257 beaches and daily Pollution Risk Forecasts (provided by the Environment Agency) indicating diffuse pollution at 167 beaches (94 beaches receive both CSO and PRF alerts).
By taking advantage of the service you can know before you go. Using SAS’s real-time water quality information, you choose where to go, with the very best water quality information available. This information is far more valuable than the weekly Bathing Water Directive samples carried out by the Environment Agency & Natural Resource Wales which can only offer a snapshot in time of water quality – often from days previous. A Surfers Against Sewage investigation found that only 11% of CSO events had the chance of being identified in the 2015 bathing water sampling regime – this further supports the need for real time water quality information and confirms why the Safer Seas Service is the must have beach accessory and water quality app.
This year will be the first year that permanent signs are erected at beaches which have consistently received poor water quality results under the new Bathing Water Directive. If a bathing water is classified as ‘poor’, the council is legally obliged to display an ‘advice against bathing’ symbol. Councils must also display information on the causes of pollution and measures to clean it up. SAS advise you to use the Safer Seas Service to identify a beach with suitable water quality on the day.
The Safer Seas Service is the first and only national service that gathers data from every coastal water company operating in England and Wales, as well as the Environment Agency and National Resource Wales.
Thanks goes out to Wessex Water, Yorkshire Water, Northumbrian Water, Welsh Water, United Utilities, Anglian Water, South West Water and Southern Water for providing real time asset data at coastal locations. The Safer Seas Service isn’t available in Scotland or Northern Island as SAS are not provided with the information needed to inform the public.
Use the Safer Seas Service to identify the best beach for you and your family this summer. Hundreds of our best beaches are pollution free; make sure you know yours is before you go!
David Smith, SAS Science and Policy Officer