Clean water campaigners from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) welcome the return of full Ultra Violet (UV) treatment for Tynemouth’s sewage tomorrow. SAS will use this opportunity to warn other water companies that reducing sewage treatment can have serious impacts on the health of surfers, waveriders and water users. Any future seasonal UV turn off applications will be met with the full force of the SAS campaign team!

In 2006 Northumbrian Water applied for six sewage treatment plants to have their UV treatment turned off outside the bathing season. SAS’s successful campaign highlighted the year round use of the sea adjacent to 2 of these sewage treatment plants demonstrating the potential impact on the health of the surfers and water users as a consequence of these proposed UV turn offs.

Using SAS sampling methodology, the Environment Agency (EA) denied UV turns offs for Marske treatment plant affecting surfers at Saltburn and only allowed a partial turn off for Howden affecting surfers at Tynemouth.

Tomorrow, Northumbrian Water’s sewage plant at Howden will once again be fully treating it’s sewage using UV disinfection, and so making it safe. Tynemouth, like many surf spots around the UK has it’s best surf season outside the traditional bathing season (May – September). Ever improving wetsuit technology means surfers can enjoy their sport for hours at a time, even in the depths of winter. This is also true for all water sports, not just surfing. Kite surfers, windsurfers, sailors, kayakers amongst other water sports all enjoy fantastic conditions outside the bathing season, all over the UK.

Today, in a pre-emptive move, SAS lunched a three-pronged campaign action designed to warn off future UV turns off applications, targeting the Water Company’s Carbon Managers, Water UK and the Carbon Trust.

Firstly, SAS are contacting water companies’ Carbon Managers. SAS support water companies efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, but not at the cost of increased health risk to surfers and waveriders. There are much more important areas of a water company’s business that should be improved first and foremost in tackling carbon emissions before applying for UV turn-offs. SAS urge water companies to reduce their leakages, increase customer’s water efficiency, improve their own renewable energy production and implement low energy high quality treatment facilities amongst other action.

Secondly, SAS are calling on Water UK to reconsider recommending ‘treatment reduction’ at well used surfing beaches and other recreational waters as part of Water UK’s 10 point check list of energy saving recommendations for water companies.

Thirdly, SAS are asking the Carbon Trust to support SAS and advising water companies against making ‘seasonal UV sewage treatment turn-offs’ and look instead to promote using more low energy high quality sewage treatment.

SASCampaigns Director, Andy Cummins says“Water companies’ reducing energy consumption and their carbon footprint is a positive move. However, reducing sewage treatment at popular surf spots outside the bathing season is a backwards step from water companies and has worrying health implications for surfers and waveriders.”