Clean Seas Please Free Family Fun Day – Friday 22nd August
Need something to do on Friday 22nd August between 10.00 and 3.00? Come along to the Stade Open Space where the Clean Seas Please crew are joining up with the Southern Water roadshow, Radiator Arts, Hastings Borough Council Play activities for lots of FREE fun things to do and discounted refreshments from Eat@ The Stade café. Check our Facebook page – Clean Seas Please or Twitter @CleanSeasPlease
In some areas of our town there are single manhole covers allowing access to both the foul (sewer) water and the surface (rain water) pipes. Over the years some of these have lost the caps that seal the two pipes, which results in the possibility of sewage contamination when the water levels are very high, such as times of heavy rainfall. If this happens the sewerage flows straight to the sea without treatment and could be one of the reasons why the standard for the bacterial level of the sea water may be missed in October 2015 when the new EU Directive and increased standards are introduced.
The Environment Agency, Hastings Borough Council and Southern Water have been working hard to identify dual manholes and checking if they are properly capped. This has taken some time as Southern Water have only just taken charge of a lot of private manholes that have been unmapped.
The good news is that to date Southern Water have successfully replaced the caps designed to prevent the flow of contaminating flows into the surface water in 47 locations. Work is on-going to find more.
Hastings Borough Council have produced a guidance booklet on dual manholes for householders – if you concerned that your waste water drainage is not correctly plumbed take a look at it:
Radiators Arts themed their summer arts project around Clean Seas Please this year. The young people attending the Arts Clubbers group first collected rubbish from the beach and using this, along with some recycled rubbish produced the collection of fearsome sea creatures so can see below.
We recently launched the yellow fish campaign with a group of school children from St Mary Star of the Sea, St Leonards. After creating a giant people fish picture we walked down to the outfall at Goats Ledge following the surface water drain and painting yellow fish on the pavement. If you see a yellow fish on the pavement above a drain it means that anything going from there, rain water, litter, dog mess, paint, oil or petrol will end up directly in the sea as this pipe does not lead to the sewerage treatment plant.
To help us maintain a good standard of sea water quality and achieve, not only the new standard, but to become the best beach around we all need to think carefully about what we pour or allow to go down a drain in the road.
We need to say thanks to East Sussex Fire and Rescue – Blue Watch from the Ridge Fire Station, Hastings Police, MJS media, Wordsmith Design, Bright Young Things, Hastings Voluntary Action, Rother Voluntary Action and most of all the staff and students on St Mary Star of the Sea – all who made the film possible.
Have you noticed any changes going on in Alexandra Park recently? Its all to do with the investment that the Environment Agency and Hastings Borough Council are making to improve the water courses to help us reach the new Sea Bath Water Quality Directive. But its no where near the sea I hear you cry – well no it isn’t but the foul or sewer water from some parts of the town, once cleaned and discharged from the treatment plant by Southern Water, is then filtered down through the reservoirs and ponds in Alexandra Park to a pipe that runs under Queens Road and out to the beach through the short outfall pipe.
Because of the journey that the cleaned water makes it important that it does not become contaminated again. To help ensure that this does not happen you will see changes in the way that the reservoirs and ponds look and are used over the coming year. To start with the pond known as Shornden, where all the swans are, will be treated with some microchalk to help bind the silt and stop the release of unwanted bacteria.
The new uprated Smartsponge + being fitted along. There is also a maintenance programme in place to help keep the filters clean.
There will be further work as the summer goes on when it is hoped to create reed beds to further filter the water.
Did you also know that Alexandra Park celebrates its 150th Anniversary on the 14th June – 12.00 – 5.00pm. More details at www.famouslyhastings.co.uk/park The Clean Seas Please! team will be there, come along and meet us.
On Tuesday morning we all set off to the Southern Water Sewer Tour in Brighton. Starting from the entrance at the pier we all donned hard hats and rubber gloves then headed down into the depths of Brighton Sewer. Our tour guide Stewart told us about all the problems they have with the fats and waste people flush down their drains.
The Clean Seas Please Team! This is when we were looking at the effects of “ragging” on our sewers. The picture below sums up why we all need to change our behaviour.
He gave us lots of information about the history of the sewers and how the Victorians build them. He also explained how a lot of the machinery works in pumping the water around various sewers. We got to walk up sewer pipes, in hidden tunnels and under manholes. The tour ended climbing up a ladder and emerging through a manhole, which surprised may passers-by.
Here is the man himself, our sewer tour guide, Stewart!
After being dubious about the smell the sewer might give off, it was actually an inspiring afternoon. We learnt so much about how the sewers work and what they have to do to remove all the deposits which are made by waste. It was a great experience and I would recommend anyone to go if they get the chance, it may not be the same as going to the pier or the aquarium but it was thoroughly enjoyable, even for someone who didn’t like the heights.
On Wednesday 7th May, two members of the team visited Alexandra Park to see the installation of a new addition to the stream. Despite the weather forecasts predicting torrential rain all day, for once we were quite blessed with the weather with sunshine pouring down on us as we spent our day by the boating lake. The reason for our visit was the Smart Sponge Plus. This is a new technology that has been developed in order to reduce the bacteria flowing into our seas, eventually resulting in cleaner, safer seas. As it really helps our campaign, we decided it would be interesting to pop along to see the installation and get a better idea of how it all works.
We chatted to Barry Marshall, from Smart Sponge who gave us all the details. He explained how the technology contained in the Smart Sponge Plus catches all the bacteria, and not only absorbs it but also destroys it. This is great news for the bathing water quality, as a lot of the nasty bacteria that were compromising the quality in Hastings. Barry explained that the slightly discoloured sponges have been used before in this location and are being reinstalled after being cleaned, whereas the white sponges were brand new. We arrived just in time to see the Smart Sponge Plus being installed; it was a smooth installation up until the last few blocks, when there was nowhere left to stand! A double layer of ‘geotextile’ was installed in order to stop all the debris from the stream (leaves, sticks, etc.) from entering the steel cage and disturbing the Smart Sponge Plus. Unfortunately there was quite a build up from the flow of the stream being diverted for over 24 hours, so the park rangers had the glamorous job of fishing the majority of it out with a net!
Empty Smart Sponge Plus Cage
Installing the Smart Sponge Plus
As the flow of water was gradually increased, the difference in the water quality before and after the Smart Sponge Plus installation was incredible. The water was a murky, dark colour in the sections before the installation, and after it was running clear with the bottom of the stream visible. This all happened in the space of a few hours, so lets hope it really helps to continue improving the water quality in the upcoming months before the new water bathing directive starts in October 2015. A more detailed post on the inner workings of the Smart Sponge Plus will be available in the upcoming weeks, with more in-depth and technical information on exactly how this will help and affect the local seas.
We had a great day out and are extremely thankful to Barry for sharing his extensive knowledge with us and letting us spend the day with him!
On a recent sunny Wednesday morning the Clean Seas Please! team visited catering outlets in the Old Town of Hastings to talk to café and restaurant owners about our campaign and to find out how they dispose of fats, oils and grease. We were delighted with the positive response that we received and are pleased to report that the following outlets all signed up to the campaign:
Yesterday marked a very important date in the Clean Seas Please! campaign – it was exactly 18 months until the new EU directive on water bathing quality comes into force.
What this means is that if, in the coming months, our sea water doesn’t improve then it may fall below the required standard – which would make it unfit for us to swim in. And Hastings and Bexhill beaches are among the most at-risk in the county of meeting this fate.
If it does happen, this could have a devastating effect on the local area. Not only would it seriously damage the tourism industry, which brings in a lot of income locally, but it would mean we couldn’t enjoy the beach ourselves on a nice sunny day!
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. We have been delighted to hear from people at recent events who are aware of the upcoming change in bathing water quality levels. And there are more and more people signing up to our campaign and helping us spread the word about this important issue. The support we have received in the local community has been fantastic – which is a very promising sign.
Now we want to ramp up the discussion even further to make sure as many people as possible know what we are all about and why. We want to do all we can so that our beaches are fit for all to enjoy; and we’re saving the date 10/10/2015 so that we know what we are up against.
As a community, we can all help our local beaches flourish, so that they don’t just meet the new standards, but are among the best in the land!