Tourists are being warned against swimming at some popular beaches across the UK after heavy rainfall caused sewage to flow into the sea.
Surfers Against Sewage issued the warning and published an interactive map showing the beaches to avoid around the country.
People are urged not to swim at the affected beaches, which include spots in Cornwall, Devon and Kent, as the sewage contamination can cause skin infections.
Which beaches are affected?
The beaches affected by sewage contamination include:
- Combe Martin
- Widemouth Sand
- Bournemouth Pier
- Herne Bay
- Robin Hood’s Bay
Surfers Against Sewage published an interactive map which tracks real-time sewage overflows and pollution risk forecasts, and it monitors the water quality at more than 400 locations around UK rivers and coastlines.
The warning states: "Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours."
The marine conservation charity has spent years urging politicians to introduce a legal duty on water companies to stop discharging raw sewage into rivers and the ocean.
Last year, Southern Water was fined a record £90 million for deliberately pumping 16 to 21 billion litres of sewage into the sea between 2010 and 2015.
In 2020, more than 100 beaches had a sewage warning following heavy rain. In the same year there were 403,171 sewage discharges for rivers, which are also affected. This was an increase of 37% on 2019 when there were 292,864 incidents, the figures show.
Which beaches are safer to go to?
Tourists are advised to instead head to a Blue Flag Beach in the UK, as these are awarded the status for reasons including having no sewage discharge.
There is currently a total of 182 Blue Flag beaches across the UK - 77 of these can be found in England.
England now boasts more Blue Flag beaches than South Africa, Cyprus, or Mexico.
How is the charity helping?
Over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, Surfers Against Sewage relaunched its Safer Seas & Rivers Service as new data shows the public are scared to swim outside for fear of dirty waters.
The service provides real-time alerts straight to a user’s phone, helping beach goers make an informed decision on how, when and where to use the UK’s beautiful beaches and rivers to avoid any potentially harmful pollution coming from sewer overflows.
The charity claims water companies discharged raw sewage into UK waters over 370,000 times in 2021 alone.
The Safer Seas & Rivers Service app enables users to see where untreated sewage has been discharged in real-time.
The platform allows the public to check water quality at over 400 bathing locations across England, Scotland, and Wales, submit reports of illness suffered after time spent in the water, and take direct action by contacting their MP and the CEO of their local water company.
In the last two years, 640 reports of illness have been submitted through the app, ranging from eye infections to gastrointestinal and diarrhoea.