A SEWAGE protest was held in Gurnard at the weekend, over concerns about the quality of water and whether it’s safe for swimmers.

It comes after a Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) report found popular sites for bathing in England fail to meet minimum safety requirements.

The group says 60 per cent of inland bathing spots monitored by SAS over the 2023 bathing season would be classified as ‘poor,’ based on Environment Agency methodology.

Gale Willows for the group said: "The constant pollution has taken its toll on both our health and our tourism industry.

“I've personally experienced the negative effects, from frequent ear infections to losing the desire to swim in our once pristine waters.

“It's simply unacceptable. Every time I receive an alert on my SAS app, warning of pollution, it's a painful reminder that the problem persists.

“Sometimes those alerts happen even when there has been no rainfall.

“It's disheartening to attend public meetings where Southern Water argues that it's not raw sewage because it's mixed with rainwater.

“To me, that's like claiming a drink with a mixer is non-alcoholic.

“We demand immediate action and increased investment to solve these issues today, not in some distant future, like 2050.”

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “Last week, we published our Clean Rivers and Seas Plan, outlining proposals, underpinned by £1.5 billion investment between 2025-2035, to get to the root cause of storm overflows across our region.  

“Storm overflows are part of the design of our combined sewer network, which captures both rainwater and wastewater.

"These emergency outlets are the last line of defence to stop homes and communities flooding when the sewer system becomes overwhelmed by large volumes of rain or groundwater entering the network – something we’re seeing more frequently due to erratic weather like during the recent Storm Babet and Ciaran events, caused by climate change. 

“The Isle of Wight is home to one of our regional pathfinder projects, set up to pilot innovative solutions to slow the flow of surface water entering sewers.

"Building on important early work, the plan will allocate a further £230 million to the Island’s sewage network before 2030, and install 11,000 more customer water butts and 9,000 sustainable drainage systems for local businesses, schools and care homes.

"We will also improve drainage on 550 driveways and install 3,100 sustainable roadside rain gardens and tree pits to redirect and slow run-off entering the sewer.”