We’re facing a second wave of sewage pollu­tion.

Read the 2022 Water Quality Report

Over the course of 2020 and 2021, sewage has been dumped into the ocean and rivers around the UK more than 770,000 times.

That’s almost
6 million hours

of sewage flooding our beaches and river banks that many of us surf, bathe and play in.

For this report, we’ve been diving deep into the sewage scandal.

We’ve revealed the scale of sewage being discharged into bathing waters across the country this summer. We’ve been investigating the extent to which sewage is making us sick. And we’ve been using intelligence from our Safer Seas & Rivers Service to investigate when (over the last 12 months) sewage has been dumped into our most popular beaches when there has been no rain, indicating potential illegal activity.

This is what we uncovered…

Over the summer, sewage was dumped into OUR MOST POPULAR SURF AND SWIM SPOTS 5,504 times. that’s A total of 15,021 hours.

Since October 2021, we’ve issued a total of 9,216 sewage pollution alerts for locations included in the Safer Seas & Rivers Service, 2,053 of which were during the 2022 bathing season alone.

See the scale of sewage pollution this summer

Over 39%

of sickness case studies reported to us correlate to sewage discharge alerts. And 63% of cases that were reported to a doctor were attributed to poor water quality.

The link between sewage pollution and illness is clear.

Over the last 12 months, we received 720 sickness reports, highlighting when and where people have been getting sick after playing in the water. Almost 70% of people reported suffering from stomach upsets (gastroenteritis) and 1 in every 15 cases reported multiple illnesses.

Worryingly, we found that over 400 reports of sickness were from official bathing waters classified as ‘excellent’. Is the current testing regime and the subsequent classifications really giving us a true picture of the state of our waterways?

Delve into this year’s sickness reports

In the last 12 months, we’ve uncovered

143 ‘dry spills’ pouring raw sewage into our most popular surf and swim spots when there had been no rain.

Sewage overflows are only permitted to discharge sewage into the environment during ‘exceptional rainfall events’. Water companies are prohibited from making ‘dry spills’ from sewage overflows when there has been no rainfall.

We found four times as many ‘dry spills’ from Southern Water than the next worst offender, South West Water. On top of this, we found a total of 95 ‘dry spills’ at locations classified as ‘excellent’ under the current testing regime.

Uncover the water companies’ dirty secrets

Water companies are
profit­eering off pollu­tion.

Despite nearly every water company recording a loss for the year ending 31st March 2022, the majority of them still paid out dividends to shareholders totalling £965 million.

And last financial year, water companies paid out a cumulative total of £16.5 million to their CEOs.

And the government is complicit.

They have gutted regulator funding, reducing it from £120 million to £50 million over the last decade.

They have ‘stripped red tape’, allowing water companies to self-report on their pollution. And their action plan to tackle sewage pollution simply kicks the can downstream, essentially giving companies free rein to continue dumping sewage into our waterways for the next 28 years.

Read this year’s Water Quality Report

We’re turning the tide on sewage pollution.

The sewage scandal is plain for us all to see. This year, river and ocean activists across the country have been out in force, demanding change. We’ve been taking to the beaches in protest, capturing footage of pollution crime scenes which have gone viral, banging on the door of governments to demand they apply existing laws and adopt ambitious targets, and calling on our MPs to better represent us and nature in parliament.

The #End­Sewage­Pollution campaign is a powerful, growing tidal wave of change.

Decision makers are listening and water companies can’t hide. Together we can end sewage pollution.

We demand an end to sewage pollution into UK bathing waters by 2030.

We’re calling for…

90% reduction
in all untreated sewage
discharges by 2030.

from water companies and
other systemic polluters.

World Leading water quality
and well-funded regulators.

An enhanced water quality
testing regime

solutions to sewage pollution

200 inland
bathing waters by 2030

Read the 2022 Water Quality Report

Surfers Against Sewage, Wheal Kitty Workshops, St Agnes, Cornwall, TR5 0RD
Tel: 01872 553 001 | Contact us

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