Urgent Action Needed from Surfers To Help stop Northumbrian Water’s
plans to turn off UV disinfection.

Northumbrian Water has applied to the Environment Agency to turn-off the
UV disinfection sewage treatment process outside the ‘bathing season’ at 6
sewage treatment works in the north east (Howdon, Hendon, Seaton Carew,
Billingham, Bran Sands and Marske). SAS are objecting on the grounds
that water quality will be reduced, therefore increasing the risk of
contracting a sewage related illness in a region highly popular with recreational
water users.

We have until the 17th of November to have our voice heard, so if you
haven’t signed our online petition please help us now by clicking here

The plans currently lodged with the Environment Agency (EA) have caused
concern in the local surfing community, as many surf breaks will see a
reduction in water quality if the UV disinfection process is turned off
from September to May. Reducing the level of sewage treatment in this way
WILL increase the risk of contracting a waterborne disease for recreational
water users such as surfers.

Surfing is hugely popular in the North East, and like much of the UK,
receives the best surfing conditions outside of the bathing season, the
very time Northumbrian Water wish to turn off the higher level of treatment.
The affected stretch of coast contains a large number of popular surf
breaks, from Hartley reef in the North to Saltburn in the South – it is also
home to a significant number of surf related business, university surf clubs,
surf schools and a national surf contest site.

Whilst SAS are hugely concerned about the world’s energy consumption and
its impact on climate change, turning off a vital sewage treatment process
to conserve energy could have devastating effects on not just the marine
environment but also the health of those using it for recreation. Such a
move would be a significant step backwards in protecting our marine
environment from pollution and SAS believe there are other energy saving
steps the company should be making first and foremost.

For instance treating water to a potable level and supplying it to
customers is also an energy intensive process. Treated water that escapes through
leaks is a huge waste of energy. If Northumbrian Water fixed all of its
leaks, it could reduce its CO2 emissions by up to an estimated 23,000
tonnes. That’s a CO2 saving ten times greater than the CO2 emissions
they’d save by turning off UV for the winter! (Ref 1)

The water company could also be doing more to create its own renewable
energy from the sewage treatment process. For example, Severn Trent
Water should soon be producing approximately 50% of their sewage works energy
requirements by using gas produced from the sewage treatment digestion

SAS believe that all water companies can become more energy efficient
whilst maintaining the high water quality the UK requires to protect our
coastline and those using it for recreation.

Richard Hardy, SAS Campaigns Director says: “It’s easy to turn off a
switch for 7 months of the year in a sewage treatment works when you can’t see
the impact it will have on the beach for the thousands of recreational water
users using this stretch of coastline week in, week out. SAS are
concerned that by turning off the UV treatment, Northumbrian Water will be able to
reduce their obligations and running costs under the guise of being
environmentally responsible and the only people to benefit will be the
shareholders through increased profits. This would be a huge step
backwards for the environment, the surfers and the local businesses who have all
helped pay for UV disinfection to be added to the treatment works
through past water bills and since benefited from a cleaner, safer coastline all
year round. SAS will be making an official objection as part of the
Environment Agency’s consultation process which closes on the 17th


Ref 1 based on:

* 221.72 MI/day leaking from Northumbrian Water network in 04/05
(Source Northumbrian Water group plc sustainanle development performance

* On average, 663 kWh is required to treat and supply 1MI of water in
the UK
(Source: Water UK Towards Sustainability 04/05).

100kWh is equivilant to 43kg CO2
(Source: the National Energy Foundation)

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)

Check out the 2006 SAS campaign film at
The film covers all our campaign topics and includes footage from recent

For further information on SAS campaigns please contact Tel: 01872
555950 (Campaigns Office).


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