Protesters will take to beaches over sewage discharge into English seas | Water

Demonstrations against sewage discharges ravaging English beaches will take place across the country this weekend to highlight what protesters say are water companies’ failure to reduce pollution.

From Falmouth in Cornwall, where bathers, lifeguards and synchro swimmers are demonstrating, to Whitstable in Kent, where protesters will turn a beach into a crime scene, campaigners say the problem of sewage discharges from water companies is not a problem. is not improved.

The protests come after water regulator Ofwat this week imposed multi-million pound fines on numerous water companies over pollution incidents, missing compliance targets for treatment works and flooding internal sewers in 2021 and 2022. Amounts to be deducted from customer bills. , Ofwat said.

Swimmers and beachgoers will barricade Tankerton Beach near Whitstable on Sunday to identify it as a ‘crime scene’. Ed Acteson, from campaign group SOS Whitstable, said the protest came a year after the first beach protest garnered huge support: ‘We were really optimistic that after the huge turnout last year , public support and media attention, that there would be significant changes. But if anything, it got worse.

“The government plan to reduce storm overflow discharges seems to have made it easier for businesses. Southern Water has been handed another pollution penalty and there have been over 100 hours of raw sewage discharges on Tankerton beach this year alone.

Data shows that so far in 2022 there have been 67 combined storm overflow spills over 44 days – totaling 166.6 hours – at Tankerton beach.

In July, Southern Water was awarded one out of five stars by the
the Environment Agency, making it one of the two lowest rated sites
businesses in England and Wales. In 2021, the company was fined a record £90million for deliberately discharging billions of liters of raw sewage into coastal waters in Kent and Hampshire. A criminal investigation is underway.

The government’s storm overflow reduction plan involves £56billion of investment over 25 years in a long-term program to tackle stormwater discharges by 2050. But critics say the plan falls short of ’emergency.

Hundreds of miles to the west, protesters will gather at Cornwall’s famous Gyllyngvase beach, where there were 15 sewage pollution scares in September, equaling the number for the whole of 2021.

Jo Curd, who runs sea drills at Gyllyngvase and is organizing the protest, said she hoped hundreds of people would turn up. Pollution alerts have affected her business, she added, forcing her to cancel two or three classes a week. “There were so many scares in September – more than one on some days. There is anger and frustration. We’ve been complaining about it for so long and nothing has changed.

Curd, whose seven-year-old son Ollie will be at the beach protest, pointed out that the Falmouth swimming pool had closed, making the sea the only option for many people who wanted to swim. “South West Water says they’re going to make things better, but he’ll be an adult by the time something changes,” she said.

Last weekend, a popular competition, the Endless Summer Swim, was canceled due to a pollution alert.

Simon Thomason, chairman of event organizer the Gyllyngvase Surf Life Saving Club, said he had no choice but to cancel for ethical reasons and because his insurance would have been invalid.

“This year we felt like we had constant beach scares,” Thomason said, adding a call for South West Water to invest more money in stopping water discharges. wastewater: “The climate crisis means our winters are going to get wetter. Wastewater is also affecting the ocean’s ability to store carbon, so we need to act now.

Members of the Out of Sink synchronized swimming team from Penzance will also take part in the event.

Spokesperson Pippa Best said: “The discharge of sewage into our waters is something that is close to our hearts and, unfortunately, to our mouths, eyes and entire bodies.

“We will try to perform a synch in the sea, hopefully not in the middle of sewage.”

Jayne Kirkham, the Labor leader of Cornwall Council, said: “We use our beaches and rivers here so much. They are vital to our health and our economy. I have met with representatives from South West Water but nothing is changing at any rate.

“Fixing our broken systems will take time. They have been overwhelmed with building new homes without the requirement or investment to rebuild our sewers to keep pace. But we must solve this problem for the sake of our health and that of our children, our ecosystems and our economy.

Glyn Winchester, a charity worker and frequent swimmer at Gyllyngvase and nearby Swanpool Beach, said: ‘I’m really angry that we have to come together and protest the crap. September is an exquisite time of year for swimming in the sea. The crowds have diminished, the light takes on a new quality of clarity, the sea begins to choke you as it dips. Sometimes there is an ethereal mist hovering just above the surface. But if it rained the night before, that’s bittersweet because there will be danger lurking below the surface.

Southern Water said it understood protesters’ concerns over the weekend.

“Environmental protection is a key priority for us and we are leading the water industry in developing solutions to reduce our reliance on permitted storm overflows. This is the pressure relief valve of the combined sewage system at times of increased rainfall, to avoid flooding people’s homes and communities – but we agree this is not an acceptable measure.

“Working in partnership with councils and other stakeholders, we are finding ways to remove rainfall from the sewer system, using Southern Water engineering and nature-based solutions. We are already engaging intensively with campaign groups and will continue to do so at every opportunity. »

A South West Water spokesperson said, “South West Water’s largest environmental investment program in 15 years, WaterFit, is now well underway, focused on benefits for customers, communities and the environment. Thanks to WaterFit, we will significantly reduce our use of storm overflows, reduce and then eliminate our impact on river water quality by 2030 and maintain our excellent bathing water standards all year round.

About Marco C. Nichols

Check Also

Michael Balogun, Hadley Fraser and Nigel Lindsay to Star in London Lehman Trilogy Return | The Broadway Buzz

Michael Balogun, Nigel Lindsay and Hadley Fraser(Photo: Helen Murray) The cast has been revealed for …