Sewage Free Seas Within Reach in UK

Surfers Against Sewage sewer overflow

Sewage Free Seas Are Finally Within Reach!

SAS Press Release: Surfers highlight unique opportunity to finally stop sewage pollution at England’s iconic beaches.

The Environment Agency has opened a 6-week industry stakeholder consultation on how often water companies should be legally permitted to discharge raw, untreated human sewage effluent directly into the nation’s beaches, rivers and coastline. In response, Surfers Against Sewage is calling for public support for Sewage Free Seas, and aims to deliver thousands of signatures of public support to the Environment Agency and Members of Parliament to help finally deliver sewage free seas.

Surfers Against Sewage sewer overflow

Support Sewage Free Seas today!

Surfers Against Sewage has been monitoring sewage pollution at hundreds of beaches and surf spots nationwide for years. There are 31,000 sewer overflows around the UK, designed to discharge a poisonous mixture of raw, human sewage and other pollutants from road drains and rooftops, directly into our rivers and seas. Most beaches have at least one sewer overflow that discharges this toxic soup, either directly onto the beach or into a waterway nearby. These sewer overflows are often hidden away from view at the beachfront to conceal their existence. The ten worst performing sewer overflows in the Safer Seas Service discharged a combined 250 times during the 2015 bathing season (May-Sept). Shockingly, there are many more sewer overflows along our coastline that boast similarly shamefully numbers of toxic discharges.

This pollution could make you very sick and harms the marine environment Surfers Against Sewage believes should be better protected.

Recent sick surfer case studies from around the UK:

  • Leah, aged 13, was surfing at Perranporth in August 2015, when unknown to her or her parents, the local South West Water sewer overflow discharged raw human sewage. Claire, Leah’s mother says: “Leah’s never been this ill before. I’m furious water companies continue to regularly pollute our beautiful beaches. We want Sewage Free Seas now!”
  • Dr Georgina Sowman is a surfer, stand up paddleboarder and GP from Northumberland. She was stand up paddle boarding in the sea without knowing her local sewer overflow had recently discharged. She suffered a severe illness with fevers and rigours, vomiting and sinus infection. Dr Sowman says: “It’s important to provide sewage free seas for local communities to enjoy”.
  • Duncan launched his sailing dingy from Brixham yacht club during early August 2015. Unfortunately, a graze on his leg became infected leading to serious illnesses. He was initially diagnosed with meningitis and treated accordingly. Clinical tests later confirmed a severe leg infection was the cause of these serious symptoms. Duncan was hospitalized and received aggressive treatment, followed by extensive and lengthy treatment at home. Thankfully Duncan has since made a full recovery. Duncan says: “Nobody should be subjected to the ordeal and infection I was. Sewage Frees Seas please!”
  • Christine and Jo were both taken down with sore throats and chest infections after kitesurfing at Lancing Beach, without knowing one of the many local sewer overflows had recently discharged. Christine says: “I just want clean and safe water to enjoy. Sewage Free Seas please!”
  • Dr Neil Wright and his daughter suffered a very unpleasant case of viral gastroenteritis from a surfing trip to Cornwall in March 2015. Dr Wright says: “As a GP in the midlands I had not anticipated the public health dangers of surfing after a rainfall event. Our wetsuits kept us warm but they could not protect us against a toxic soup of bacteria and viruses. Two days of vomiting and diarrhea were the price for surfing after a few days heavy rain.

A dramatic change is clearly needed. And after many years of Surfers Against Sewage lobbying, the Environment Agency is finally challenging the English water companies that repeatedly pollute our coastal environment with excessive sewer overflow discharges. Surfers Against Sewage hopes that the public support will help enable the Environment Agency to take strong and decisive action to legally oblige water companies to massively reduce or eliminate sewer overflow pollution at England’s beaches once and for all.

Surfers Against Sewage is calling for 10,000 surfers, water users, boarders, swimmers and all beach lovers to sign its response to the Environment Agency consultation calling on the government for SEWAGE FREE SEAS! To do this supporters are asked to visit www.SewageFreeSeas.org and add their signature. Surfers Against Sewage will deliver these to the Environment Agency and Environment Minister at its All Party Parliamentary Group meeting in Westminster on 4th May, once the consultation has closed. The Environment Agency consultation closes on 3rd May.

SAS Campaigns Director, Andy Cummins says: “This really is the best chance in a generation to plug the many thousands of polluting sewer overflows around the country. We need a critical mass of supporters that will be too loud to ignore. It’s now or never, take action and sign up for Sewage Free Seas today!”

Surfers Against Sewage Godrevy UK

Godrevy, Cornwall. Photo: Mike Newman

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