Surfers Against Sewage welcome the steps taken to improve the water quality standards within the Blue Flag programme at beaches around the UK. From summer 2014, all coastal Blue Flags will only be presented to beaches that can achieve the highest water quality standards within the revised Bathing Water Directive. The Blue Flag award scheme is the only UK beach award that requires this high water quality standard.
The Blue Flag beaches in England also go a step further to ensure they are providing the public with the best beach experience possible by requiring a real time public warning system in response to sewer overflows. The Sewage Alert Service is the only national service providing real time water quality warnings. We are currently working with the devolved nations to try and implement the Sewage Alert Service across the entire UK.
However, Surfers Against Sewage questions the value of the Seaside Award in relation to water quality. The water quality standard it requires is so low that a qualifying beach could worryingly still offers bathers a 1 in 7 chance of contracting Gastro Enteritis. Surfers Against Sewage believes the award recognises beaches with good management and user facilities rather than highest water quality standards. Awarded beaches may even suffer from multiple sewer overflow spills and other pollution from urban and rural environments, for which real-time & predictive water quality information are essential. The Sewage Alert Service, SAS’s free real-time water quality alerts is the only service currently providing this type of information nationwide, helping recreational water users avoid potentially harmful pollution incidents.
Surfers Against Sewage has been one of the Blue Flags loudest critics. In August 2010 SAS called for over 30 Blue Flags to be taken down around the UK because they weren’t meeting their required standards to protect the public from water borne pollution. Since that campaign SAS have worked with Blue Flag to ensure a more robust flag is flying at our beaches.
To sign up for your real time warnings, hit the link.