Rivers to be Included in the Safer Seas Service

Get your surfboards, paddle boards and swimsuits ready, as this Saturday marks the start of the official bathing season in England and Wales (yes, we’ve been in the water already too, but this is the period when our bathing waters are monitored for compliance with water quality standards).

With millions set to flock to British beaches and riversides over the summer, we’ve been busy giving the Safer Seas Service an update to help keep you even safer in the water. With a host of new features, we’ve rebranded as the Safer Seas & River Service, as the app now includes river locations, initially the River Dee in Wales, Warleigh Weir in Somerset, and Ilkley on the River Wharf in Yorkshire, as well as a number of streams in south west England.

Over recent years, the huge growth of river-based water sports, such as paddle boarding, open water swimming and kayaking, has created a growing public concern around the state of UK waterways and so we think it’s vitally important that we have the same water quality information provided to us, whether we are inland or on the coasts.

Amy Slack, Head of Campaigns & Policy at Surfers Against Sewage said:

It’s vital that water enthusiasts up and down the country are given accurate, real-time information on the risks of entering the water, whether that be coastal beaches, estuaries, or local river-ways. The COVID-19 crisis has shown us just how important our blue spaces are for our health and wellbeing and we need to know we are safe when we go swimming, paddling, kayaking or surfing. We now provide real-time water quality information to those who live inland as well as at the coast and hope to be able to include more rivers in the new look Safer Seas & Rivers Service over the coming months. The Safer Seas & River Service is an increasingly important part of our campaign to empower people to take action to end sewage pollution.

What is now the Safer Seas & Rivers Service started as a simple text alert back in 2010, piloted at just two beaches in Cornwall, but has become a sophisticated system covering over 390 locations across the UK. Providing the only national water quality information service, the Safer Seas & Rivers Service helps beach-goers, open water swimmers and watersports enthusiasts track pollution events and real-time water quality information, allowing users to assess the risks of entering the water. In 2020 alone, the service flagged almost 3,000 sewage discharges and over 2,600 pollution warnings into officially designated bathing waters across the country, highlighting the continued health risks we face when entering the water.

Last year, features added to the app empowered users to take direct action on water quality with MPs and proved a resounding success, with more than 3,700 emails sent to over 100 MP’s demanding an end to sewage pollution. This year, we’ve gone one step further and users can now email water company CEO’s directly through the app too. This means that every time sewage is pumped into the environment, users of the Safer Seas & Rivers Service can make their voices heard directly to the people in charge of the polluting pipes.

Through the Safer Seas & Rivers Service, users can also help us gather evidence on how often people get sick after entering the water, providing us with the data to fuel our #EndSewagePollution campaign. By analysing the health reports submitted through the app, we can identify ‘health hot spots’ across the UK and better challenge water companies on their polluting ways.

To download the smartphone app, search for ‘Safer Seas & Rivers Service’ within your app store. For more info, visit our website page HERE.