There’s been much discussion here on the island this week and quite frankly it’s all been a bit crap… literally. There have been ‘warnings’ put out regarding water quality across the Solent by Southern Water – yes the very people you might have hoped would be controlling the flow of raw sewage so that it doesn’t go into our seas. They very handily offer a website where you can see where there’s been a problem in the last 72 hours called Beachbuoy. However, the site is keen to point out that “Southern Water can’t make any recommendations about the safety for water users in the event of a release from a CSO (combined sewer overflow). Beachbuoy is simply a reporting tool – users are advised to use their own discretion when entering the water. More advice and information about bathing waters can be found on the the Environment Agency’s website.” Our household has put in a request to explain this further and we are currently having ongoing ‘discussions’ (cough) with the company.
Thankfully people like the wonderful Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) are also on the case. Their ambition is to “end sewage discharge into UK bathing waters by 2030”. I’m sure many of us are asking how we are still in a position that this is any way acceptable and it comes as a surprise to so many people that it is still going on in 2021. It might be a cliche but if we can send and fly a drone helicopter on Mars can we not also look after what we have here? (OK, back off soap box). SAS also have a great little app called Safer Seas Service which you can download from your usual app store. It’s not able to tell you about water quality ‘out of season’ nor the CSO’s which is frustrating, but it’s a start and you can receive alerts from saved locations or keep an eye on venues across the country (including some rivers). SAS are also encouraging everyone to write to their MP to urge them to engage with the discussion and you can either do this via their website with a suggested letter or email independently.
Karen and I were very clear about using our ‘own discretion’ as advised by Southern Water and resorted to booking a slot at our local swimming pool. Yes, we swam indoors for a change. No salt and no poo. And what a different experience that is! Firstly its warm water…and I mean REALLY warm water. To be honest I have had baths at lower temperatures than that I’m sure – although this might just be swayed by having been swimming in the sea all year, mainly without wetsuits bar a two week stint when temperatures dropped to a fun 3C. At first it felt almost awkward and we certainly didn’t need our gloves and socks (even though for some unaccountable reason I had initially said that I would definitely be wearing my socks?!). Secondly, the water has no salt, and no salt means less buoyancy. It was fine but did feel distinctly different to be swimming in fresh, chlorinated water plus there were no waves! Ok, so there might have been a little wave when I did a few sneaky ‘Fiona’ moves to remind us to giggle – believe me, it really does lift the mood to throw yourself in an arch, hippo style. It’s a little strange when you realise how much people don’t giggle when exercising but understandable when you consider that they’re paying for it; exercising for health; potentially going because they feel they ought to. Assuming that we want to use the swimming pool in the future we did have to keep a slight lid on the chatting / laughing side of our swims. Yes we were almost one of the more serious, grown up swimmers for a day, although the smell of chlorine and echoing sounds of water and swimmers takes you straight back to school swimming, to verrucas, tangled hair and swimming in pyjamas. Thankfully we did NOT experience any of these and compared to the thought of ingesting someone else’s pre digested, re packaged evening meal I’d go for the former any day!
The good news is that the water quality has resumed to it’s usual “OK” levels and we were back in the sea. The only thing now is that we’re wondering how we could draw lines on the sea bed to help guide and direct us!