Today Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and their 9ft Sewer Surfer are again back on the beaches of Guernsey to expose the distorted and misleading information published in the Liquid Waste Strategy report, relating to Guernsey’s continuous untreated sewage discharge policy. Guernsey’s Public Service Department’s recent Liquid Waste Strategy report contains fundamental errors on the impacts of continuous untreated sewage discharge, again risking the reputation of the island; particularly as a tourist destination. SAS maintains its call for the island to treat all its sewage effluent to sufficient levels.
Read about the “The risks of mixing with sewage” by Dr Dave Baglow
At 1pm SAS campaigners and their 9ft Sewer Surfer will be on Pembroke beach at the west end. Pembroke is currently failing bathing water standards set down over 35 years ago and the report acknowledges its water quality is impacted by the outfall at Belle Greve.
According to SAS, the Public Services Department have produced a flawed Liquid Waste Strategy report recommending the continuation of discharging 16,000 tons untreated sewage daily, via the Belle Greve long sea outfall. Instead of installing the necessary sewage treatment infrastructure, Public Services recommend installing diffusers that will merely whisk up the raw sewage after it has passed through grates to remove the sanitary debris, without removing the harmful pathogens.
The report’s misleading recommendation is based on inaccurate assumptions that fail to take into account the accepted benefits of primary & secondary sewage treatment in the reduction of the number of harmful pathogens contained in effluent.
Point 8.3. from the Liquid Waste Strategy wrongly states “…The provision of primary settlement would remove a percentage of the suspended solids and BOD but would have no significant impact on bacteria…” This is incorrect and overlooks the importance of primary treatment stages. Primary sewage treatment would remove the vast majority of the organic material. This is the first step of responsible sewage treatment and a vital component in reducing the number of harmful pathogens along with their ability to survive in the marine environment.
To clarify, it is accepted that organic material in sewage effluent reduces the effectiveness of the ‘natural UV treatment process’ (sunlight) that the department are promoting as a solution to sanitising Guernsey’s untreated sewage effluent. Organic matter will also actively prolong the life of harmful pathogens in the waters around Guernsey by providing nutrients and protection from predators such as zooplankton. This is precisely why EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91) standards, insist on primary treatment, including the removal of organic matter, as the very bare minimum, a directive Guernsey are supposedly using as a benchmark.
This fundamental mistake undermines the report’s recommendations. The Liquid Waste Strategy document makes numerous questionable statements, which SAS will be challenging at a meeting with Deputy Flouquet on Friday 20th January.
SAS believes the Metoc report, paid for by Guernsey’s residents, contains various additional shortcomings and unsupported recommendations.
The report highlights only 3 bathing waters within the influence of the Belle Greve outfall, including Pembroke. Pembroke is currently failing water quality standards set down over 35 years ago and the report acknowledges the outfall as a potential source of contributing pollution. The effluent impact modelling used by Metoc is commonly used for modelling effluent that has been treated to a much higher level and stripped of the organic matter, so is not an accurate model for the Guernsey outfalls. As we have outlined above, untreated sewage, such as that from Belle Greve, will be more persistent in the marine environment and so the area affected by the Belle Greve outfall may be much more extensive than these three locations. SAS are questioning the modelling data and believe that the impacts from the Belle Greve outfall are felt far further afield than Metoc have suggested. SAS’s beliefs are supported by consistently poor water quality results along Guernsey’s west coast.
The States of Guernsey have a history of reneging on their commitment to responsible waste water strategies when they feel the spotlight has moved on. After securing such a commitment from the States of Guernsey in 2009, SAS have stopped campaigning whilst the Public Services Department identified improved sewage treatment methods for the island. However, the campaign is now back on. Hundreds of SAS supporters posted their disgust on Facebook and Twitter at the Public Services strategy earlier this week. Next week in the lead up to the States debate SAS will increase the pressure with multiple campaign actions.
Enteric bacteria survival factors: http://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00042/15353/12709.pdf
There have already been several hundred Facebook interactions on Wednesday posted on SAS’s & Guernsey’s Facebook page and on Twitter too, including:
Colin Fleming wrote: “I’ll not be visiting Guernsey any longer…………raw sewage discharge, no thanks!!”
Mary Stokes wrote: “Who wants to swim/ surf/ paddle in waters which have had 16,000 tons of raw sewage discharged into them every single day? Most definitely not me. Won’t be visiting any time soon, I prefer my water crap free. This stinks!”
Avril (on Twitter) wrote: “Bad decision. Wrong on every level. Don’t pollute our oceans.”
@LoopyMau wrote: “Taking the Channel Islands off my to-visit list – there’s no excuse!”
Campaign highlights so far:
- After a packed public meeting with Guernsey’s water sports community SAS launched the campaign and delivered their demands to Minister Bell, Public Services Minister in October 2004.
- Dec 04, SAS hand in the 2nd largest petition (collected in just over a month) to Minister Bell.
- SAS ensured Guernsey’s dumping of 65,000 people’s raw sewage was a national news issue and the hottest topic on the island.
- In December 2005 SAS’s Dr Loo arrived on Guernsey to warn of poor water quality results in the future. A warning that came all too true!
- In January 2006 SAS campaigners spent 65 hours on the steps of the States of Guernsey in record low temperatures. Campaigners were warmly received by the Guernsey locals.
- In January 2006 SAS ended the vigil by launching a sewage counter tracking the billions of gallons of raw sewage and waste water dumped off Guernsey.
- January 2007 SAS highlight the States of Guernsey’s attempts to fudge the issue hoping we’ll give up!
- September 2007, SAS meet all seaward bound visitors to Guernsey, ensuring they were made aware of exactly what Guernsey does with it’s sewage – dump it into the sea untreated!
- Surfing zombies at a States meeting on Halloween 2007. We came within a couple of votes of full sewage treatment that time.
- April 2008, in the run up to local elections SAS towed the turd around the island calling on candidates to support SAS’s campaign. The majority of sheriffs supported the SAS campaign for full sewage treatment.
- 2009 SAS secure clean water commitment for Guernsey
Discharging 16,000 tons of raw sewage off the coast of Guernsey is an archaic practice. If the Public Service department are successful in selling their strategy Guernsey will stand out internationally as a dirty island. Islanders deserve better sewage treatment and visitors are demanding it.
Andy Cummins, SAS Campaign Director