Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaigners are today relieved to announce that the Ultra Violet (UV) treatment that renders sewage effluent clean and safe, has finally be turned back on by Anglian Water at the popular beaches of Cleethorpes and Mablethorpe. Unfortunately for surfers this is just as the best surf season finishes.
Anglian Water turns off their UV treatment outside the bathing season (1st of October until the 15th of May). Unfortunately for surfers this is the best season for surf. Turning off the UV results in a dramatic increase in the potentially harmful pathogens released to the sea. Pathogens that can result in Hepatitis A, Ecoli 0157H, Gastro Enteritis and much, much more.
SAS are concerned not just about the impacts on the marine environment but also about the potential health impacts on the local water sports community that use these beaches all year round. Research has shown that surfers are 3 times more likely to contract Hepatitis A than bathers as we immerse and ingest more than the average bather. This research is been backed up with anecdotal evidence from the local water sports community.
Turning off the UV is a significant step backwards in protecting our marine environment from pollution and SAS believe there are other energy saving steps the company should be making first and foremost.
The water company could also be doing more to create its own renewable energy from the sewage treatment process. For example, Severn Trent Water will soon be producing approximately 50% of their sewage works energy requirements by using gas produced from the sewage treatment digestion process.
SAS recently fought a successful campaign against turning off UV sewage treatment at popular beaches in North East in 2008. The Environment Agency determined that before any water company reduces their levels of sewage treatment by turning off the UV treatment, they must first prove the absence of water users and prove it doesn’t impact on water quality. SAS believe this sets a strong precedent and one that should be followed throughout England and Wales.
SAS are calling on the Environment Agency to ensure that Anglian Water fully treat their sewage and properly protect water users all year round. And from the 1st of October onwards we are calling on the Environment Agency to undertake a comprehensive study into the presence of water users at Mablethorpe and Cleethorpes.
There’s a strong and increasing water sports community that want to use the sea all year round. I’m hearing from many locals who are complaining about ear, nose and throat infections and because of the reduced treatment people are less keen to go in knowing what could be out there.
Matt Strathern at Extreme Horizon Surf Shop
Surfers and waveriders in Mablethorpe and Cleethorpes deserve the same levels of protection offered elsewhere around the country. Because surfers are immersing and ingesting in the water, especially in winter, we are more at risk from harmful pathogens like hepatitis A and Ecoli and need year round protection.
Andy Cummins, SAS Campaign Director