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Clean Seas Please!

In two years time, more stringent European standards will be applied to the quality of our bathing water and, based on current measurements, there’s a chance swimming in the sea at Hastings might be banned. However, all is not lost, writes HOT’s Zelly Restorick, there’s still time for us to make our part of the coast a place to happily and healthily enjoy the beach and sea. 

And of course, nature – air, water, earth, other species – don’t recognise our human boundaries. In their world, there’s no such thing as ‘England’ and ‘Europe’, ‘Hastings’ and ‘St Leonards’, ‘East Sussex’ and ‘Kent’… it’s just one planet. By cleaning up our waters, we’ll be making a vital, necessary global contribution.

In 1976, a Clean Bathing Water Directive was initiated, greatly improving the quality of the water. However, in 2015, even higher, more rigourous standards will have to be adhered to under the new European Directive – and the testing has already begun, taking place over a four year period. The main objective of the Directive is to protect public health and the environment from faecal pollution.

In the past few years in Hastings, using the test standards of the current Directive, Hastings has been in the ‘Mandatory’ category, meaning the water reaches the ‘minimum requirements’. However, when I checked today, the latest result for 13 August, shows we’ve met the ‘Higher’ standard, so we’re on our way to cleaner waters. But work still needs to be done to reach the higher standards of the 2015 Directive, especially considering climate change and rising population levels.

Clean Seas Please

Design by Erica Smith

I contacted Jan Cutting, the Clean Seas Please representative at Rother Voluntary Action and she explained what would happen if the new standard isn’t reached.

“We will have to advise residents and visitors not to go in the sea, by posting signs all along the seafront. Just think what they would mean for the reputation and economy of the town. The Clean Seas Please initiative is a campaign to raise awareness of this issue. Funded by the Environment Agency and managed by Hastings Voluntary Action and Rother Voluntary Action, we are helping to spread the word to our community to consider simple choices that people around them are already making to keep our seas clean and our beaches not just better, but best.”

Jan suggested some simple, common sense things that all of us can do to contribute to the campaign.

Fat and grease in a sewer pipe

Pouring fat, oil and grease down the sink can lead to blocked sewers. Photo from Southern Water

Don’t put nappies, cotton wool, sanitary items, etc down the toilet, as they create a build-up of bacteria and can find their way into the sea untreated. Don’t pour fat or oil down the sink, where it hardens in the sewers and creates blockages. Don’t pour paint, white spirits, oil, petrol or other toxic and chemical products down the drains in the street. Check the drains on your property to see if they’re connected to the sewer, as if they’re not, the dirty water will run into streams and eventually the sea without being treated. Pick up after your dog, bagging and binning it, preventing the rain washing it into the sea.

Stall at Labyrinth

Stall at Labyrinth

Work has also been taking place in Alexandra Park and Egerton Park in Bexhill to prevent sewage flowing into the sea, due to incorrect drainage connections. A ‘Smart Sponge Plus’ is also being tested, initially developed in the US after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and now being used to reduce the bacterial elements in water.

If we think about what we enjoy most about being here in Hastings and St Leonards, the sea and the beach would more than likely come high on our lists. And if we thought about the water we’d ideally like to swim and play in, I can’t imagine many of us saying ‘ideally, I’d like to splash around in untreated excrement, litter, paint, fat and oil filled water, please’.

So, we’ve got two years to clean up our beach-and-sea-act. It’s not long, it’s definitely a challenge, but it’s entirely possible to achieve.

Clean Seas Please participants

Clean Seas Please participants

Further information about Clean Seas Please* here.

*  This website will be fully up and running in about two weeks time, where you can sign up to support the campaign, find ideas and suggestions about what you can do, lobby the decision makers, play a game, download an Android App – and you can contact them with your own suggestions and ask for support and feedback.

Facebook : Clean Seas Please

Twitter @cleanseasplease


Previous HOT article about how long it takes rubbish to biodegrade, How Degrading by Zelly Restorick, here.

The Environment Agency Clean Bathing Water site here.

Marine Conservation Society and Good Beach Guide here.

Southern Water Pain in the Drain suggestions here.

 Rother Voluntary Action Environment AgencyHastings Voluntary Action

Posted 19:24 Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 In: The HOT Planet


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Patricia stephenson

    Strong smell of sewage again in the Cinque Ports area (by the old Stamco building) yesterday……this has been happening since we moved here in 2006, and we wonder when the problem of the outfall in this area will be resolved…it is very unpleasant and nobody is sure what is going on here….is it safe to swim in this area or not??????

    Comment by Patricia stephenson — Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 @ 08:26

  2. DAR

    Good advice about what not to put down toilets, sinks, drains etc. It’s a pity we have a private monopoly in charge of our water (Greensands Investments aka “Southern Water”) because otherwise the whacking £300+ million pounds profits for the last year might have been better used in improving water treatment and their terrible leakage record rather than dishing out loadsamoney to shareholders.

    Comment by DAR — Friday, Aug 30, 2013 @ 23:02

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