Surfers from across the south east are expected to turn out in large numbers to ‘Paddle Round the Pier’ in Brighton on Saturday 12th June in support of the Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaign to win full sewage treatment for Brighton.

PHOTOCALL: At noon on Saturday 12th June, surfers, kayakers, and bodyboarders will paddle around the Palace Pier in protest at Southern Water’s failure to include a full (tertiary) sewage treatment system for the city to a planning application expected to be submitted in Autumn 2004.

At present the equivalent of 80 Olympic swimming pools worth of untreated sewage are pumped out to sea from Brighton every day. That’s untreated sewage from 250,000 people being discharged in a Victorian sewer off Telscombe Cliffs through the Portobello outfall pipe!

Left untreated, sewage poses a significant health threat as bacteria and viruses thrive and multiply. Most at threat are water users such as surfers who ingest water routinely and are regularly subject to falling sick from gastro-enteritis or ear, noise and throat infections through surfing in polluted water. In fact scientists have found surfers are 3 times more likely to contract Hepatitis A than the general public.

Brighton is a popular spot for recreational watersports – surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking and sailing are all widely practised in the area. It is therefore disappointing to know that Brighton – one of the UK’s biggest seaside resorts – has failed to provide a modern sewage treatment plant that disinfects sewage with Ultra Violet light to render the effluent safe before it is discharged to sea. Many seaside resorts around the country have benefited from installing full (tertiary) sewage treatment in the form of Ultra Violet Light Disinfection. They have not only made the water cleaner and safer for water users but have also added value to the local economy by not having a black mark (or brown mark) against them staining their reputation.

The proposed new sewage works in Peacehaven East will provide only for sewage to be treated to secondary level and still allows for a bacterial loading of 100,000 faecal coliforms per 100ml. UV plants reduce that bacterial loading to just 35 faecal coliforms per 100ml. As it stands the effluent from the new works in Brighton would still be nearly 3000 times dirtier than the effluent discharged to sea from an existing sewage treatment works in Jersey that has been using UV for the past decade!

Based on its popularity and high proportion of recreational water users in Brighton providing UV treated sewage effluent should be an essential requirement and it is a scandal that only a ‘middle of the road’ option is set to be provided.

Richard Hardy, SAS Campaigns Director says: “A House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Sewage Treatment and Disposal concluded ‘that all sewage should be treated to a tertiary level at all times and in all places using processes that will help to reduce nutrients as well as pathogens’. Brighton should not be the exception to those beliefs”!

For more information or pictures from the event please contact Richard Hardy on Tel: 01872 553001 or Mobile: 07711 767548.

Brighton representative and SAS Director Richard Gregory on Mob: 07855 869332


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