Posted by: waterworks | August 27, 2008

37. Dirty Beaches

Intense rainfall in seaside areas (twice as high as summer 2006 for many locations) has recently brought a reported marked rise in the surface run-off of rainwater into coastal Treatment Works.   As a result of which, the same Works have often found themselves releasing a combined sewage and storm water overflow directly into inshore waters – bringing with it a choice selection of tampons, condoms, cotton-wool buds and excrement, much to the dismay of bumper numbers of ocean bathers (sadly, these unsavoury leakages have coincided with cash-stressed Brits swapping exotic holidays abroad for a trip to the local seaside). 

Almost a third of Britain’s beaches currently breach European standards and according to The Guardian newspaper (Saturday August 23, 2008), around two-thirds of the 488 designated bathing beaches, rivers and inland waters in England and Wales have suffered recent increases in peak sewage pollution.  “Some sewage overflow pipes are discharging constantly when they shouldn’t be,” Thomas Bell, coastal pollution officer for the Marine Conservation Society, told The Guardian.  “We know these overflows will be discharging more often now with the rain we have had this summer.  The sewage is heavily contaminated effluent and big pieces of debris, which includes sanitary items, plastic and organic waste which is flushed down the toilet.”

Data source: The Guardian (23 August 2008) 


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