If you use the water for recreation and concerned about your health then JOIN US!

Campaigners from SAS will deliver a sick surfer in a hospital bed to Northumbrian Water at 10am on Friday 17th November 2006 calling on the water company to withdraw their applications to turn off UV sewage treatment at 6 sewage works in the region.

DEMO DETAILS: If you’re a recreational water user and concerned about the plans to turn off this vital sewage treatment process then please come along for the demo which will last from 10 – 11am outside NW offices, Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham, DH1 5FJ. Bring boards, wetsuits and friends!

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 SAS and the surf community huge concern, as many surf breaks would 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.

If Northumbrian Water are successful, the affected stretch of coast would include a large number of popular surf breaks, from Hartley reef in the North to Saltburn in the South. The breaks are also home to a significant number of surf related business, university surf clubs, surf schools and also includes 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!

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 process.

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 November”.



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