Sunday, 8 November 2020

Call to Action: Sewage Discharges

Despite the obstacles to campaigning and regular members’ meetings as a result of COVID and social distancing regulations, you will be pleased to hear that as CDGP we have continued to work diligently to tackle environmental and social issues in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay. One such issue has been highlighted in a recent article from the Guardian: Raw sewage dumped into English and Welsh beaches '2,900 times this year'.  

The article comes as a response to a recent report by Surfers Against Sewage, a UK-wide pressure group with active branches in Whitstable and Herne Bay, as well as a number of other Kent coastal towns. The group is dedicated to fighting against the pollution of our oceans and tracks the notifications by water companies of sewage discharges as they occur. 

According to the report’s findings, Southern Water has failed to issue notices of sewage discharge at a number of popular beaches, not only causing significant damage to the marine wildlife in the area but also posing a public safety risk to beach-goers throughout the year. The report states more than 20% of reports of illness following ocean swimming and / or surfing came from locations covered by Southern Water’s wastewater and sewage services. 

The discharge of sewage into bathing waters occurs as a result of combined sewer overflows (CSOs). This refers to emergency infrastructure in place to release raw sewage in the event of heavy rainfall or pressure build-ups in the sewer system. However, findings released in the report show that CSOs have been used outside of these periods, leading to unnecessary environmental damage and public health risks. 

In response to the report’s findings, Surfers Against Sewage is calling for year round notifications of sewage discharges to be made available to the public. Furthermore, they are calling for legally binding targets to be introduced to the upcoming environment bill, aiming to end all untreated sewage discharge in all bathing waters by 2030. 

The report states: “This is just the tip of the iceberg. Water companies must do more to protect and restore blue environments and fully safeguard the growing number of people who rely on these natural amenities for health, prosperity and wellbeing.”

So where do you come in? Here at Canterbury District Green Party we have been shocked and saddened to hear the findings of this report and therefore we urge you to write to your local MP on this matter, asking them to sign Amendment 200 to the Environment Bill as well as to support Phillip Dunne’s (MP) Private Members’ Bill which aims to change the law to stop sewage discharges by water companies into inland waters. 

You can access the full SAS Water Quality Report here.