From Whitby to Bournemouth, British beaches log about 271 recreational visits per year, with up to 40 million dips into the ocean. But maybe not this year. Things are a little smelly and pathogen-laden at the moment, what with a monumental sea sewage scandal. And everybody seems to be blaming somebody else.
Disappointed bathers faced more than 40 pollution warnings at favorite swimming spots in England and Wales last week. After rainfall overwhelmed local systems, water companies dumped raw sewage into waterways. And for some reason, this is still a legal practice in the U.K. Though not a particularly popular one.
The government said the sea sewage scandal is the fault of greedy water companies who put shareholders before customers. A spokeswoman from 10 Downing Street, the British government seat of power, said that the Environmental Agency has already stepped up monitoring of water companies with: “Since 2015 the Environment Agency has brought 48 prosecutions against water and sewerage companies, securing fines of over £137 million.” Commendable. Now, how about putting all that money and more into updating the ramshackle old sewage infrastructure?
Political opponents and Boris Johnson’s own father, Stanley Johnson, point fingers at the government and Brexit.
“We have to blame the government for not pressing this matter as hard as it should’ve done,” the senior Johnson said in a radio interview. “Absent the EU push as well, you can understand how the government felt able to not push this thing as it should’ve pushed.”
Then there’s the water regulator, Ofwat, who critics say should have cracked down on the water industry long ago. Instead, there seems to be a revolving door between watchdog agencies and water companies, hinting at collusion.
According to our sources, minke whales, basking sharks and bottlenose dolphins who cruise the waters offshore from the U.K. all agree that the situations is really, really gross. They blame humans.
Lead image via Pexels