Beauty of the beach: the lockdown edition

It's a tale as old as time....welcome to Beauty of the Beach, the latest lockdown edition.

Southern Water and the Environment Agency joined forces back in 2016 now to launch the ‘Beauty of the Beach’ campaign, which celebrates our coastline, demonstrate our commitment to bathing water quality and supports people in playing their part in keeping the beaches beautiful.

Now supported by councils across the region, the campaign is given an additional focus thanks to lockdown.

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 by or visit the coast – and this has never been more the case than now!

As we find ourselves dealing with something completely new – a pandemic that closed pretty much everything we were used to: work, schools, shops, restaurants, bars and leisure facilities; we found ourselves firstly confined to our homes bar 1-hour of exercise a day, and slowly allowed out a bit more, but still really only to outdoor spaces.

Holidays may be off, visitor attractions and leisure facilities are still closed and will only reopen slowly…

The beach has never felt more important.

It certainly seems that those who are lucky enough to live by them, and now more recently everyone, are really appreciating them!

And the great news is that bathing waters along our region’s 700 miles of coastline, which covers Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent and Sussex, have never been cleaner in recent times.

Tom Gallagher, Head of Bathing Water for Southern Water, says: “We are as committed to protecting coastal waters as ever. We work to ensure they are of the highest quality and have invested millions of pounds in doing so, and although thus far the Environment Agency is unable to sample the waters as they would normally start doing in May, we want to reassure you that we are still doing everything we normally do to look after bathing water quality.”

Before privatisation of water companies in 1989, only 41 per cent reached the basic minimum standards. While water companies alone are not responsible for the quality of bathing water, we play a key role in protecting it and we take the role seriously.

Bathing water results 2019

Bathing water at beaches across the South East achieved their highest ever ratings in Defra’s Bathing Water summer sampling regime.
Fifty eight out of the region’s 83 bathing waters achieved Excellent compared with 55 in 2018. Some 21 were rated ‘Good’, four ‘Sufficient’ and - for the third year running - none were ‘Poor.’

We will be ready should the Environment Agency be able to commence testing this season.

Leave only footprints on the beach

Coastal water quality can be affected by factors outside our control. These include rainwater running off roads and industrial or agricultural land, wastewater from privately-owned treatment works, boats and even animals, such as dogs or seabirds, and litter on the beach.

We hope that by offering advice, beach goers will realise they can do their bit to protect the water too and want to play a part.

We also remind people to follow the government’s advice in regard to social distancing.

Together we can we can give this story an even happier ending!

Epilogue: our customers have also told us they want us to do even more. We are working hard on bathing water improvement schemes, and it is our commitment to bring all 83 bathing waters in our region up to “excellent” standard by 2040.