Less than a fortnight to go before the end of the official bathing season in the UK (30th September).
Will I be hanging up my wetsuit until 1st May next year when the 2014 bathing season starts? Er, no. Where I live, the surfing season starts when the bathing season stops.
That means that the end of September is when water quality tests stop and water companies can discharge mixed sewage and rainwater into the sea without treatment.
In the 3 decades I’ve been surfing I’ve witnessed an exponential growth in winter surfing – to the extent that surfing props up the economies of many coastal communities around the UK. Back in the day, car parks at surfbreaks were virtually empty (and free) in February. Now they are packed (and expensive). B+Bs, surf shops, cafes, pubs all benefit from the growth in ‘out of season’ surfing.
Coincidentally, 30th September is also the date when the UK government’s consultation on extending (or shrinking) the bathing season ends. SAS is campaigning for it to be extended to benefit surfers (through more testing and reducing the chances of untreated sewage discharges) and coastal communities.
For surfers, other water users and businesses in coastal communities this should be a no-brainer. SAS have produced a guide to the issues and what to think about when completing the consultation. I’ve done it and it took only about 5 minutes.
Surely that’s a small sacrifice to help secure cleaner seas and healthier seaside economies?