As the bathing season starts again, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has launched an updated and improved Safer Seas Service, now reporting on water quality in real-time at 330 beaches around England and Wales. The Safer Seas Service is the only national service that protects water users from sewage and diffuse pollution in real-time and this year’s service has become even more sophisticated; increasing the number of beaches covered by the real-time alerts responding to both raw sewage discharges and diffuse pollution incidents. The Safer Seas Service protects water users from these pollution events and directs them towards beaches with better water quality. The Safer Seas Service app is free to download for iPhones, iPads and mobile Android devices from iTunes and Google Play; the information is also displayed on the SAS website.
The Safer Seas Service is this season’s must have beach app, helping beach users make the most informed decision about how, when and where they use the sea, avoiding pollution. Harmful pathogens present in sewage and diffuse pollution can impact coastal waters even on the sunniest of days. Unfortunately these pollution events are often difficult to identify in coastal waters and are often missed by the weekly bathing water tests. The Safer Seas Service bespoke information system automatically processes real-time data feeds from every coastal water company in England and Wales and the Environment Agency, providing vital water quality information to the people that need it the most.
The Safer Seas Service has already proven extremely valuable to lifeguards, beach managers and the public. A full list of the beaches included in the Safer Seas Service is in the notes to editors section. The real-time reporting of sewer overflows is now a requirement at Blue Flag beaches (2015 Blue Flags announced 20th May). Safer Seas Service users testimonial:
Sarah Louise beach user and parent says: “I’ve downloaded the app, not because I’m a surfer but because I care about my children’s health and don’t want them swimming in polluted waters! Great app, thank you.”
Emms Lowe, surfer says : “The Safer Seas Service is the best app on my phone, a must have for surfers, swimmers and all beach users.”
Alexa Poppe, beach event manager says: “The Safer Seas Service helps keep people safe from pollution, a great app.”
Andy Cummins, SAS Campaigns Director says: “Real-time information on water quality is vital to ensure beach users are able to avoid pollution incidents and enjoy the safest and best beaches we have to offer. If you’re going to the beach this summer make sure you download the free Safer Seas Service and know before you go! http://www.sas.org.uk/safer-seas-service/”
During the 2014 bathing season, a relatively sunny and dry season, the Safer Seas Service issued an alarming 212, 772 free real-time pollution warnings to 14,129 users in response to 771 diffuse pollution incidents and 786 sewer overflow events. Since the Safer Seas Service inception, SAS has warned of more than 6,238 individual pollution incidents for free and in real-time.
However, the Safer Seas Service doesn’t just issue timely warning about pollution. The service importantly reinforces the positive news when beaches are enjoying good water quality. Other useful features include the apps pollution history function, enabling users to identify how the beach is performing over the course of the bathing season and compare its current environmental performance with previous years. This will inform users if pollution events are a regular occurrence at their beach or an unfortunate one off.
How does the Safer Seas Service work?
Surfers Against Sewage receives real-time warnings from water companies when water company sewer overflows discharge untreated human sewage at 310 beaches. The Safer Seas Service app generates a push message for smart phone users and updates the online map at www.sas.org.uk
Surfers Against Sewage also receives daily forecasts from the Environment Agency relating to impacts from diffuse pollution at 187 beaches. When a potential impact on water quality is forecast the Safer Seas Service app generates a push message for smart phone users and updates the online map at www.sas.org.uk
There are 167 sites that the Safer Seas Service report in real-time on both sewage discharges and impacts from diffuse pollution.
There is no other service in the world that provides such complete and up to date information on water quality. We want beach users to visit, use and enjoy UK beaches, but avoid contracting some of the serious illnesses associated with bathing in polluted waters.
The Safer Seas Service also has some additional features to help us all protect water quality, report pollution incidents and further the public’s understanding of the health threats.
As well as the new app, the Safer Seas Service warnings are also displayed on an online map.
Download the app now, explore the new features and sign up to your favourite beaches!