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It's a tale as old as time....welcome to Beauty of the Beach!
From childhood memories of trips to the seaside to long walks in the winter sun; family picnics dodging the seagulls and brushing sand (or shingle!) off your sandwiches – life can be a beach when you live and work by the coast.
That's why Southern Water and the Environment Agency have joined forces on a campaign to celebrate our coastline – and help people play their part in keeping the beaches beautiful.
The great news is bathing waters along our region’s 700 miles of coastline, which cover Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, have never been cleaner in recent times.
However, the way bathing water quality is measured changed in 2015 and standards are now twice as strict as before – which is why Southern Water is joining forces with our friends in the Environment Agency to address issues which affect bathing water quality.
So as well as celebrating the 83 beautiful bathing waters in the region, through 'Beauty of the beach' we want to help people learn more about what impacts bathing water quality and give YOU the power to protect your beaches by taking some simple steps.
Never fear – you don’t have to live on the coast to help – visitors to our sunny shores play just as important a role in protecting and enhancing our coastline.
There are loads of things you can do to help improve the beauty of the beach!
7 things you can do to help
1. Make sure all your rubbish and litter goes in a bin, whether you're at home, out and about or down on the beach – and recycle wherever possible.
2. Why not take part in a two minute beach clean? Every piece of litter removed from the beach matters. Just two minutes' worth of activity will help protect the health and welfare of our beaches, bathing waters and the animals and marine life that live there. For more information, please visit: http://beachclean.net/
3. Don’t pour fat, oil and grease down the sink. It can harden in pipes and cause wastewater to back up - polluting the environment. And forget the common misconception - mixing fat with hot water and washing up liquid doesn’t make a difference! So let it cool, pour it into a suitable container like an old plastic bottle, and put it in the bin.
4. Dog, bird and other animal poo can affect bathing water as it often contains high levels of bacteria (much higher than treated human waste). That's why you should always pick up your dog poo and put it in the bin - preferably one specifically for it, if possible.
5. Don't feed the birds! When they flock for tasty morsels, they tend to poo. The more you feed them, the more they come back and the cycle continues.
6. Put unflushables like wet wipes, tampons, nappies, cotton buds, razors and condoms in the bin. Flushing anything other than the 3Ps – (pee, poo and paper) down your toilet can cause serious blockages.
7. Look out for misconnected drains and poorly located and maintained septic tanks in your home, as they can pollute surface water systems. By looking after your home you can improve your beach too. The ConnectRight website has further information on how to make sure you don't have misconnected drains.
Why not check out our new campaign video, made with real members of the community with a passion for their beach.
A huge thanks to Tom Evans from the Environment Agency in Sussex, Dave Melmoth from Joss Bay Surf School in Kent and Vanessa Churchman from the Isle of Wight... Of course, the real stars of the show are the beautiful beaches in our region - we hope you enjoy it!
Brian Rousell - Project manager, Bathing water enhancement programme
I am the Project Manager for the Bathing Water Enhancement Investigations Programme with Southern Water.
This involves working to deliver a series of investigations and interventions at 21 bathing water sites around the Southern Water Region on time, to budget and to the required quality.
We are looking at sources and pathways of pollution getting into the sea and affecting bathing water quality. I manage the consultants and contractors to carry out a range of investigations to inform our work going forward.
"A vested interest in the quality of bathing waters"
I am a resident of Brighton & Hove and enjoy dinghy sailing with my family, so have a vested interest in the quality of the bathing water around our coast.
I am acutely aware of how important the beaches are to local economies around the southeast coast and admire Southern Water's target of getting all 83 of their bathing waters to "Excellent" by 2040.
My advice to people who want to help improve the beauty of the beach is to report any pollution you spot on the beaches to the local Beach Managers and/or Southern Water so they can investigate its source.
In addition, don't tip waste down surface water drains and keep to the 3P's (pee, poo and paper) down the toilet. Dog mess must always be bagged and binned, even away from the beach because it can get washed down the gutter and flow straight to the sea/beach.
Celia Austin - environment strategic planner, bathing water enhancement programme
I love beaches. When I was growing up, we had to wait until we were on holiday to enjoy my favourite beach activity of digging channels and building dams in the sand. I was endlessly fascinated by the way the water always finds its way out to sea and this has not changed.
When my son was born, we needed to move and thought, where better to be, than by the sea. We visited Worthing - fell in love with the sun setting on the beach - and have never looked back.
When I ask the boys 'where shall we go?' the answer is always 'the beach'. Even when it's so cold they turn purple, we are there with bells on!
Looking at shells, splashing in the water or gazing out into the blue - there is nowhere we would rather be.
When the boys were babies we would sit on the beach and I would sing them songs about the sea as we watched the world go by. The kite surfers making a picture postcard scene with their colourful kites, the chilled out paddle boarders cruising along the shore. Couples walking hand in hand across the sand. Dogs frolicking. Family picnics. Seagulls keenly watching the fate of that tray of chips. Kids enjoying ice-cream on a cold day. Resting on a bench dedicated to someone who loved looking out to sea as much as I do.
It is great to think that as they grow up they will have the beach as their playground and the sea to set sail in. Whatever your age - the beach remains constant and beautiful.
This is why I was very excited to join the Environment Strategy Team at Southern Water and be involved in 'Beauty of the beach' through our Bathing Water Enhancement Programme.
It's great to be part of a team so dedicated to improving the quality of bathing water. In my role as an environment strategic planner I am working on the 'benefit to users' criteria - simply put, this means I gather information on which beaches in the programme have the greatest potential to positively benefit the community if we carry out enhancements.
I love a good detective story, and that's the stage we are in at the moment - digging into what is affecting bathing water quality and searching for answer.
Everyday, we are discovering more clues to unlock the mystery, and I have a front seat. It's brilliant.