With the States of Guernsey meeting on Wednesday to decide the future of wastewater charges, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaigners are reminding Deputies that last year’s bathing water results were again very disappointing and in years to come are likely only to get worse as European Bathing Water legislation is strengthened.

Having received copies of the 2008 water quality data it appears more than half of Guernsey’s designated bathing waters have failed to meet Europe’s guideline standard on water quality, with Pembroke beach failing all together.

With a recent strengthening of Europe’s water legislation, meeting new bathing water quality standards of the future will become more difficult unless Guernsey invests in full sewage treatment and takes measures to reduce diffuse pollution now.

SAS supports the introduction of a wastewater charge, which will fund full sewage treatment. This is why we are supporting the De Lisle/Fallaize amendment, which proposes full sewage treatment and ensures a significant proportion of the proposed charge will go directly towards achieving this target.

SAS asks Deputies to give this amendment their full support at Wednesday’s States meeting.

In addition to Pembroke’s failure, the beaches of Fermain, Petit Bot, Portelet, Cobo, Ladies Bay and Bordeaux are only achieving a basic pass (mandatory) of the EU legislation. The World Health Organisation (WHO), who were a leading force in strengthening bathing water quality standards equate a beach passing the basic water quality standard as presenting a bather with a 12 – 15% risk of contracting gastro-enteritis.

These results for Guernsey can only be seen as ‘unacceptable’, especially for an island that thrives on marketing and making use of the sea in its ‘corporate identity’. In reality dumping all its sewage raw into the sea puts it on a par with poorly developed countries that have been unable to afford proper sewage treatment.

Unless this changes, SAS fear groups like VisitGuernsey will increasingly be swimming against a murky current on this issue. Extolling the virtues of Guernsey’s wonderful beaches whilst discharging 65,000 people’s raw sewage to the coast on a daily basis stinks of hypocrisy. For instance, VisitGuernsey have been given more taxpayers money in 2009 to spend on attracting more European visitors, yet the fragility of the sewerage network and its ability to fail in the height of summer could still cancel out all that funding when visitors vow never return if they are victims of beach closures from sewage pollution.

Full sewage treatment could change all this and give the island the foundations to confidently show off a clean and diverse marine environment.

Andy Cummins, SAS Campaigns Manager says: “Guernsey’s water quality results remain patchy for 2008 and have been in general decline over the past 10 years. Without full sewage treatment SAS believe more beaches will fail, especially when new bathing water quality standards come into effect from 2012. We urge Deputies to consign raw sewage discharges to the history books by voting in full sewage treatment. They can make a start by voting for the De Lisle/Fallaize amendment to wastewater charges on Wednesday!”

Downloadable docs

2008 Water Quality Data

1992 – 2007 Water Quality Data