Surfers Against Sewage

Clean water campaigners from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) took their giant soapbox to the Hayle Co-operative supermarket today to launch SAS’s new ‘Go Phosphate Free’ campaign ahead of World Water Day (on the 22nd of March). 

The SAS campaigners gave away over 600 samples of phosphate free Ecover washing powders to shoppers as a positive example of a low impact alternative.

Phosphates in washing powders can often pass through the sewage treatment works untouched.  Once these phosphates enter our rivers and seas, they can cause eutrophication, or over-enrichment.  Over-enrichment of our rivers and seas can result in harmful algal blooms.  Excessive phosphates can result in an inability to support life, effectively turning our rivers, seas and our beloved surf spots into dead-zones.

SAS are lobbying the Government for a ban on laundry based phosphate detergents.  This will help the UK meet targets set by the EU Water Framework Directive whilst delivering cost savings for water companies and hopefully taking the pressure off bill payers.

It’s estimated a ban would cost the detergent industry £4 million, a tiny percentage of their £500-£600 million annual profits.  Water companies have already invested £950 million on phosphate removal since the mid 90s and will require a further £500 million to protect waters identified as “sensitive” to eutrophication under the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. 

The majority of detergent manufacturers already produce phosphate free washing powders based on zeolites. These low impact alternatives are comparable in price and performance with the polluting phosphate products.

The UK is one of the heaviest users of phosphate washing powders amongst EU countries.  In fact, the UK is in the minority among western EU nations not having restrictions on phosphate washing powders. 

SAS Campaign Manager, Andy Cummins says:  “Today’s SAS’s action was aimed at surfers, waveriders and consumers, so whilst SAS lobby the Government, we can all make small changes in our everyday lives to combat this problem.  Choosing to go phosphate free with your washing powder will help protect the environment we are love so much, our beautiful rivers, seas and of course our beloved surf spots!”

Paul Westaway, manager of Hayle Co-operative food store said: "SAS should be congratulated for highlighting the link between our everyday actions and the impact they have on the environment, and we are glad The Co-operative could help reinforce this message."

Source: Surfers Against Sewage

Moreton Island, Queensland

Last Thursday, Queensland, Australia, suffered one of its worst environmental disasters.

A cargo ship leaked tons of fuel into the ocean after cyclonic seas caused containers of ammonium nitrate to break loose and rip giant holes in the hull of the ship.

Why the ship was out in these rough sea conditions will be the subject of a full investigation.

To date, the total amount of oil spilled has not been determined, but a spokesman for the company Swire Shipping, Ltd.

which owns the vessel in question, says that it's believed to be significantly more than the 11,000 gallons originally estimated.

Read more ...

Palm Beach reef

Administrative Law Judge Robert E. Meale ruled late yesterday that the Town of Palm Beach be denied a Joint Coastal Permit to nourish Reach 8.

One year ago in March 2008, the Surfrider Foundation, Snook Foundation, and three individuals filed suit against the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for approving a Joint Coastal Permit for the Town of Palm Beach to dredge-and-fill Reach 8.

The Town of Palm Beach intervened on behalf of the DEP, and the City of Lake Worth and Eastern Surfing Association intervened in opposition of the project. The trial lasted three weeks, ending in October of last year.

Reach 8 is one of eleven reaches of beach within the County of Palm Beach. The Town of Palm Beach nourished Reach 7 two years ago costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Reach 7 caused substantial environmental harm to the local coastal resources and has already significantly eroded away.

The Town of Palm Beach was proposing more of the same in their attempt to dredge-and- fill Reach 8. Reach 8 extends 1.8 miles and includes beaches within the Town of Palm Beach and the City of Lake Worth.

The Town of Palm Beach proposed dredging offshore and filling in 700,000 cubic yards of fill material on Reach 8 directly burying seven acres of nearshore hardbottom reef.

The City of Lake Worth maintains a public park within Reach 8 and opted out of the Joint Coastal Permit due to the projects’ potential to harm their environmental resources and local economy dependent on them.

“This is a tremendous win for Florida’s Beaches,” said Chapter Chair Greg Lyon. “To our knowledge, this is the first time that any court in the US has flatly rejected the permitting of an approved dredge-and-fill project due primarily to the potential negative environmental impacts.”

The five petitioners proved the dredge-and-fill project would destroy the beach and coastal environment by directly burying reefs, killing marine life, including endangered seaturtles, and overall destabilizing fishing, diving, surfing and other valuable recreational uses of the area.

“The Judge clearly grasped the significance of the geological and biological coastal systems in this area and their rarity. His ruling focused extensively on the overwhelming data from numerous experts that supported the denial of this permit,” said attorney Jane West, whose firm Collins & West, P.A. represented the five petitioners.

Rob Young, Director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University and an expert witness in the case expressed admiration for the judge’s ruling. "Judge Meale took a very hard look at the numerical computer model used to predict where the nourishment sand would go, and he strongly criticized its use," Young said.

"This same model, GENESIS, is used all over the country for the design of beach nourishment projects. The Judge’s ruling is a serious indictment of that practice."

“We look forward to working with our experts and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to re-examine its policies on beach management and realize these dredge and fill projects can be detrimental to the coastal environment they are alleged to be protecting,” said Ericka Davanzo, Surfrider's Regional Manager in Florida.

Judge Meale’s ruling is an order of recommendation to Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Michael Sole, who will now have 45 days to issue the final order.

The history of surfing is a complicated of facts and assumptions. TED released a five-minute cartoon video featuring a simplified description of the sport of kings.

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