UK beaches: sewage is destroying Nature and waves

40% of the UK beaches have failed national standards for pollution in 2012. It is the worst year of the decade for the British sea side.


This year's alarming bathing water results expose 35 UK beaches failing to meet out-dated water quality and public health standards.

The wet summer of 2012 has shown the sewerage system just can't cope. The UK's overburdened sewerage system is bursting at the seams, resulting in all too frequent raw sewage and storm water discharges nationwide.

In response, Surfers Against Sewage Alert Service has issued over 100,000 free real-time SMS warnings to beach users warning beach users of sewage pollution incidents.

"This year's poor results should be a reality check to the water industry. Investments need to be made to ensure our seas are safe for water users and we are ready for tougher new standards", says Andy Cummins, SAS Campaign Director.

The vital Sewage Alert Service allows beach users to make informed decisions about how, when and where they should use the sea and protect themselves from polluted water. SAS is also using the data to build up a profile of priority beaches that urgently need water company attention and investment.

English beaches failing the 1976 EU Bathing Water Directive are: Spittal, Seaton Sluice, Seaham Beach, Seaton Carew North, Saltburn, Staithes, Sandsend, Kimmeridge Bay, Charmouth West, Lyme Regis Church Cliff Beach, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Shaldon, Bantham, Mothecombe, Plymouth Hoe East, Plymouth Hoe West, Seaton, East Looe, Mounts Bay Wherry Town, Bude Summerleaze, Instow, Weston-super-Mare Uphill Slipway, Blackpool South, Blackpool North, Cleveleys, Walney Biggar Bank, Walney West Shore and Allonby South.

There are a further three failures in Wales, two in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland.

At beaches meeting the basic mandatory standard bathers can still be presented with a 1 in 7 chance of contracting Gastro Enteritis. 93% of beaches only achieved the mandatory level. The health risk significantly rises for surfers as they immerse and ingest more frequently than the average bather.

SAS is predicting a dramatic rise in the numbers of failing bathing waters as the new tougher 2006 revised Bathing Water Directive standards strives to provide improved levels of public protection. Unfortunately, the UK is once again poised to be labelled the dirty man of Europe.

The root cause for many of the failing bathing waters is the water industries over reliance of the Combine Sewer Overflow (CSO) as a means of sewage disposal.