Surfers Against Sewage accesses data on when sewage overflows discharge pollution into 388 of our most popular beaches and river locations. We provide this information to water lovers across the country through our free mobile app, the Safer Seas & Rivers Service (SSRS). As the UK’s only real-time sewage pollution information service, the SSRS helps people to make an informed decision on the risks of going for a surf or taking a dip. Between 1st October 2021 and 30th September 2022, we issued a total of 9,216 sewage pollution alerts for locations included in the SSRS, 2,053 notifications were during the 2022 bathing season alone. Through the app, water users across the country are also taking direct action to end sewage pollution by; writing to local MPs when sewage is pumped onto beaches or rivers, calling out water company CEOs on their polluting habits, and submitting sickness reports on when and where they fell ill after swimming in our wild waterways.
What’s in store?
In this report, we’ve used data collected through the SSRS between 1st October 2021 and 30th September 2022 to focus on the hidden health crisis caused by sewage pollution. We’ve crunched the numbers behind 720 health reports, highlighting the extent to which sewage pollution is literally making us sick. And we’ve delved into some shocking stories from the ocean and river lovers who have fallen ill this year after taking a dip.
Secondly, we’re using data from the Met Office and the SSRS to investigate possible ‘dry spill’ events. These are instances where a sewage overflow has discharged when there has been no rain. Since the law states that sewage should only be discharged in ‘unusually heavy rainfall’, a ‘dry spill’ can indicate illegal activity. We’ve looked at instances when we received notifications of sewage discharges at locations on the SSRS but no rainfall has been recorded in the area. We’re using this information to call out water companies on possible illegal practices.
And finally, for this year’s report we’ve teamed up with Top of the Poops to analyse sewage data from every sewage overflow affecting bathing waters in England from the 2022 bathing season (15th May – 30th September). Together we’ve discovered the number of times and for how many hours untreated sewage water has been dumped into our bathing waters this summer, and by whom.