Sewage storm overflow, more than a storm in the political teacup?

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The growing popularity of “wild swimming” and the designation last year of the UK first riverine bathing water in Yorkshire suggests that the once largely coastal issues of designated bathing waters, the implementation of the 2013 bathing standards and a plethora of issues associated with achieving and maintaining standards, may have started to become a potential problem for far more destinations, many of them many miles from the sea.

The designation of a bathing water isn’t driven purely by local whim but by public health considerations and specifically the popularity and volume of use for swimming of any particular body of water gets. If a water is genuinely popular there are only two real options: have it designated, it or stop its usage. If you have bodies of water used regularly by a lot of swimmers then sooner or later it should be designated.

The problem for the coast for the best part of 40 years has largely been sewage discharges and subsequently once routine discharges were removed, storm overflow discharges mainly, but not exclusively, at or very near to the coast itself. Recent events now suggest that all may not be fully resolved at the coast itself and that far greater problems may now exist inland with significant routine and storm discharge to the river system polluting both the river systems and eventually areas of the coast.

The issue of sewage storm overflow in England has recently been in the national press, prompted by a rejection of Lords Amendment and a week or so later a relatively high-profile change of heart and introduction of a Government Amendment regarding sewage discharges and a duty on Water Companies to make greater improvements within the Environment Bill.

The UK beach management (part of British Destinations) post may be of interest to both coastal and any inland member with major bodies of water or significant rivers passing through them:


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