The report has found that a majority of bathing areas located within the UK’s interior have excessive levels of pollution, making it unsafe for use.
A recent report has discovered that most of the popular inland swimming locations in the UK are not safe for bathing.
According to a report from the organization Surfers Against Sewage, 60% of popular swimming and water sports spots were discovered to have unsafe levels of pollution in a sample group.
In 2023, volunteer citizen scientists collected samples from forty different locations on a weekly basis during the bathing season. Half of these locations were popular bathing spots, while the other half were located upstream from a sewage overflow that affected the water quality of the swimming areas. According to the methods used by the Environment Agency, 24 of the 40 locations had poor water quality. Additionally, four of the 20 bathing sites showed a noticeable decline in water quality when compared to locations downstream from a sewage overflow.
According to the report, there were over 399,864 instances of untreated sewage being released into UK waterways this year, which is equivalent to more than 1,000 releases per day. Additionally, Surfers Against Sewage reported 1,924 cases of illness caused by suspected sewage pollution in the past year, nearly triple the amount from the previous year. These cases led to a total of 1,987 sick days.
The report brings attention to Reuben Santer, a high school physics teacher in Exeter, whose case involves contracting the untreatable Ménierè’s disease while surfing at Saunton Beach in Devon. Santer stated that his doctors attributed the infection to a virus or bacteria that entered his ear during his surfing session, causing him to take a break from work.
Santer stated that he has never felt anxious before, but this particular experience has caused him to be concerned about the possibility of symptoms recurring while driving, surfing, working, or in any situation where vertigo could pose a risk.
Campaigners are concerned that the UK’s decision to deviate from EU water monitoring standards in England, as reported by the Guardian, could lead to a worsening of the situation.
According to Giles Bristow, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, the latest water quality report exposes the apathy and neglect of governments, water companies, and regulators towards the well-being of UK rivers and coastlines. This ultimately affects the health of individuals. When will our elected officials take action to safeguard our environment and address the issue of sewage pollution in our blue spaces?
At every level, we are witnessing a lack of success. This ranges from governments and regulators neglecting their duty to uphold laws, to water company executives taking advantage of dirty funds and refusing to improve their practices. As a result, the general population suffers the most. How many times must we declare “enough is enough”? Our leaders must make transparency a priority, ensure proper enforcement of laws and regulations, and prohibit water companies from profiting off of pollution.
According to Steve Reed, the opposition spokesperson for the environment, the water industry has been severely damaged in the past 13 years under Tory government. The pollution of sewage in our rivers, lakes, and seas is a major issue and it is unacceptable that families and children cannot safely enjoy these bodies of water. Despite these serious problems, consumers are being burdened with higher water bills while CEOs continue to receive large bonuses.
Rebecca Pow, the Minister for Water, stated that the amount of pollution in our water is completely unacceptable. She also mentioned that this is the first time a government has taken such extensive measures to address this issue. Our strategy for water includes increased funding, stricter regulations, and more rigorous enforcement to monitor all sewage overflows, decrease pollution from all sources, and impose faster fines and penalties.
“This particular strategy involves extremely stringent goals, ultimately resulting in the largest water company infrastructure project to date – a total of £60 billion invested over a span of 25 years. This will lead to a significant decrease in sewage discharges, potentially reaching hundreds of thousands.”