At 11:30am yesterday morning, Saturday 20 May 2023, hundreds of paddle boarders from Surfers against Sewage and Brighton Explorers Club gathered to protest about sewage discharges into the sea.
Campaign manager from Surfers Against Sewage, Izzy Ross, said: “I am sick of water pollution. Water companies pumped sewage into the sea 400,000 times in the last year which is 820 times per day and 16,000 times in Brighton and Hove. They have failed to improve the sewage infrastructure, shareholders are swimming in millions while we are swimming in sewage. We are sick of sewage. We won’t stand for it anymore.”
Stuart Davies from Surfers against Sewage organised the event in Brighton which is part of a national day of protest against sewage. He said: “We want an end to sewage discharge by 2030 in bathing waters and a cap on CEO bonuses until this is sorted. The Government needs strong and effective regulation. There were two sewage discharges last week. People are angry and they have had enough.
Stuart said: “It will cost the water companies, including Southern Water, £10 billion to fix the problem and consumers will have to pay for it. We need a central, coordinated plan from the water companies. Last year there was a sewage discharge more than once per week in Brighton and Hove. What we are seeing is too little, too late.”
Kat runs a charity for young people called ‘Esteem.’ She said: “Young people are going to inherit the planet. We have a responsibility to leave it sustainable for the next generation. We are nature, everything we are doing that harms the planet, is harming ourselves.”
Oliver Heath who is a surfer said: “I am a Brighton resident and long-time user of the sea where I scuba dive under the pier. I spent my life swimming in the sea without getting sick. It’s disgusting that people have been profiting from the natural resource by polluting it.”
Katie Wootton from Canada who works in a local surf shop said: “I love the sea and I want it to be taken care of for us, for children, for kitties and puppies.”
Co-organiser of Surfers against Sewage, Annabel said: “I am a swimmer and people are getting sick because of the sewage.”
Stuart said stopping all sewage discharges by 2030 was a realistic goal.
Nick Mills, Head of Southern Water’s Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force, said: “We have already made significant investment in Brighton and have made a major reduction in spills as a result of our seven-mile super sewer lying under the chalk cliffs of Brighton which transfers waste and storm water to our new Peacehaven treatment works, one of the largest and most modern wastewater treatment works in Europe. This massive infrastructure project ensures that the 95 million litres of wastewater on average per day generated from Brighton and the surrounding areas is fully treated.”
According to Southern Water: “Hidden beneath the chalk cliffs between Peacehaven and Brighton lie gigantic 150 million litre storm tunnels that can hold a full day’s long term average rain fall which helps to reduce storm overflows in the area but population growth and the effects of climate change mean they cannot always be avoided.
“This massive infrastructure project was also accompanied by two new pumping stations.
“On very rare occasions, the storm outfall at Portobello is designed to discharge flows to sea via a long sea outfall when the capacity of the Peacehaven treatment works is exceeded.
“These flows are heavily diluted wastewater, with the greatest constituent being rainwater collected by the combined sewerage system. The current operation of the overflow is critical to the performance of the drainage system, particularly with respect to protecting properties in the city centre from flooding.”
Hove MP, Peter Kyle said: “The sea is at the heart of our community here in Hove and Portslade and these natural resources that are so precious to the well-being of our population and environment, must be respected. We are in a dirty water emergency, with water companies discharging raw sewage into English waterways over 1.2 million times between 2016 and 2021.
“In Hove specifically, I am in regular contact with Southern Water to try and combat this situation locally. I am now dealing with the Overflow Task Force team alongside the Shadow DEFRA team. The Government is failing to act and take the matter in hand so we must do what we can from the opposition bench.”