Water Users Against Sewage

by William Howells in Padstow, Cornwall, United Kingdom

Total raised £1,083

raised so far



To create an information network for the public via a “FLAG” system on actual beaches, warning the public when sewage has been discharged.

by William Howells in Padstow, Cornwall, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Expand to more beaches suffering with pollution issues. Continual water testing

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-664491561698870582_d92de9ea-af1d-44f0-9981-f0f766167a7c.jpeg A simple way to inform the public when sewage has been discharged onto public beaches is to display large“flags”. These would help to inform users that sewage discharges have taken place and there is potentially a threat to health. Both human and animals. (Particularly dogs, but let’s not forget the actual marine environment!)

These flags can be easily seen and read by the public. They can also be  seen by people using webcams to look at beaches for surf/weather conditions etc. 

This information is currently very difficult to locate on most beaches, it is usually just an A4 paper sign, that are difficult to locate on large public beaches. Especially those that have multiple access points. 

Flags are already employed on Lifeguarded beaches.

These clearly show bathing and surfing areas.

Red flags  are used when the ocean is judged too dangerous for people to use, black and white flags designate surfing areas, whilst red and yellow are bathing areas.

A blue flag indicates good water quality.

So a flag system would compliment existing public information seamlessly. I propose brown… but open to suggestions! 

 My initial aim is to start local with a few beaches, Harlyn, Trevone and Porthcothan, working with local groups..

  • The eventual goal is to use this system on all lifeguarded beaches in Cornwall, and hopefully a nationwide scheme in time. Similar schemes are being launched in North Devon.

  • Obviously the eventual end goal is to get such a scheme adopted by the RNLI, Local Councils, Water Companies and the Environment Agency so that this becomes a national scheme, until it’s no longer needed!!!
  • I feel it’s only right that you the public and passionate beach goers have the right to know easily and quickly if you are at potential danger from sewage discharges.
  • This year there have been over 50  instances of sickness reported at just Harlyn beach , my local beach !  One young girl on holiday ended up in our only local  hospital in Truro 20 miles away on a drip.
  • The flags would be displayed between low and high water mark only after a discharge has occurred and a threat to public health is present.
  • The current official bathing season is from the 15th May until the 30th September each year. These dates do not cover the earlier school  Easter holiday  period or the later October half term school holidays. It would be good to include these earlier and later dates initially.
  • However with modern wetsuit technology people are using the ocean year round.
  • I believe this would be great asset to protecting public health and the environment generally. It is a very non threatening way to achieve better safety for all.
  • Money raised is all to be spent on public awareness and said flags. These obviously need to be very durable and two/three on each beach to start with, and hopefully working with other pressure groups in the near future to help fund them as well.
  • Money will also be spent on independent testing of water samples when particularly heavy rainfall has taken place to compare with “official” data. I believe it’s important to use independent testers in a timely fashion to ascertain actual pollution levels. This would be published online platforms with easy access. 
  • On a personal note was poisoned late July this year whilst surfing my favourite beach in the world. I have never felt pain like it!  I just don’t want any other human being to endure being poisoned. I am under going medical tests for a viral blood disorder and a swollen liver.
  • It’s your choice if you swim/surf etc. in sewage  or not, but I believe you should be aware of the risks. I’m not here to tell anybody what to do, just give information that I think will add to overall safety for everybody. The  aim is to be inclusive as possible for all water and beach goers benefit.
  • I must point out that this is a stunning part of the world, and the beaches and ocean often stunning and clean. However there appears to be an alarming increase in sewage incidents according to publicly available data. This is why I feel the need to act and make a positive change for everybody using this  environment.
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  • Thanks so much for reading this, and I apologise for any mistakes, but I am passionate about leaving a legacy that one can be proud of for future generations.
  • Any donations would be amazing, but more importantly than that if you could spread far and wide it would really help raise awareness.
  • Obviously this is very early days but with some vision I’m sure the local community can set an example to be proud of.  
    Final note if the modest target is met it will be put into a community trust fund. It’s for the beaches!
  • 1698651325_img_5111.jpegSewage Free Sea (or Seas), or Citizens Against Sewage or similar? Suggested by a friend , free flag for best name?
    🏄‍♀️🚣‍♂️🚣🏾🏊‍♀️🏄‍♂️🏄🏄‍♀️🐟🐠🐟💦💧🪿🦀🐚🏊🏾🧘🏻🏖️🌊🤿🐟🏄🏾🏄🏻‍♂️🏄🌤️🏄‍♀️🏊🏾🏄From dogs to kids to expert bbq users to swimmers, snorkel humans, paddle boarders, ocean edge frolickers, surfers, lifeguards, surf instructors, kayakers, walkers, coasteering jumpers, fisher people, boat people, boogie boarders, paddlers and the actual marine animals… plus anyone I forgot everyone deserves a clean beach !
  • UPDATE 30/12/2023
  • Many thanks for all contributions so far. It means from 01/01/2024 the campaign goes live.
  • By being physically on the beach I believe this model can only grow in visibility.
  • So far funds have been spent on basic equipment and graphic design for flags  (eco leaflets in design process for public awareness and education)
  • I am endeavouring to network and build upon nationwide awareness via social media and hopefully national television.
  • I have “stretched “ the campaign target. This is to facilitate long term water testing on a regular basis during all climatic conditions. From sunny days to winter storms. I do not see this problem being solved quickly . Therefore I am passionate about this long term and providing beach users with knowledge.
  •  Various institutions and companies have been contacted about water testing. I am in the process of planning a sustainable way of testing. From using testing kits in the environment, to sending samples for laboratory testing.
  • Once again many thanks for your support. I angry about this … but deep down very passionate!!

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