Across the UK

We hope this year’s report re-fuels your fire for water quality campaigning as we move into 2024. Below are some campaign activations, protests and demos happening across the different regions. Get involved, or get inspired!

Show the power of your community

Organising a peaceful protest or demonstration is a great way to show your local MP and water company how many people in your community care about the issue and support your cause. It’s also a great way to capture media attention which will help to spread your message far and wide!

Advice for running a protest or demonstration

  • Chose a suitable location for your activity/ event.
  • Make sure you take into consideration any hazards and complete a risk assessment to ensure appropriate health and safety measures are taken.
  • Make sure you notify any relevant local authorities (Police, Council, Coastguard etc) in advance.
  • Involve and invite your community with plenty of notice.
  • Invite your local representatives.
  • Get creative and make it eye-catching. Making interesting props, outfits and art are just a few things you can do to help stand out.
  • Take photos on the day – get a professional photographer if you can! Pictures can speak a thousand words.
  • And of course, don’t forget to get in touch with us at SAS HQ to tell us about any of your ideas or plans.
  • We’re also here if you want help to sense check whether your action aligns with our values at SAS, we’re all about peaceful, legal and inclusive – but daring – protesting!

How to engage with your local representative

Find your local representative:

England – MP (Member of Parliament)

Wales – SM (Senedd member)

Scotland – MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament

Northern Ireland – MLA (Member of the legislative assembly)

  • Write a letter to them explaining why you care about water quality and want them to do something about it.
  • You could write a letter as a group with other people you know are interested e.g. your local swim group, your sports team or local businesses to ask for your local representatives to take further action to tackle the sewage pollution in your area.
  • You could ask your local representative to have a meeting to talk about your concerns and discuss the water quality report.
  • You could ask representatives to read the Water Quality Report and the End Sewage Pollution Manifesto, and ask them what they are doing locally to tackle sewage.

Key questions to ask your local representative:

  • Will you prioritise the end of sewage pollution in your next term?
  • How do you think the government can support regulators to enforce the law, to ensure untreated sewage is only discharged in periods of extreme heavy rainfall, rather than on the daily basis that we currently see?
  • How will you work to ensure the sewage pollution is not profitable for water companies and their shareholders?
  • Do you agree that water companies should be entirely transparent and accountable to their customers?
  • How will you work to ensure water companies make it clear to bathers all of the risks they face when entering waterways all year round?
  • Will you visit our local waterways with us to understand why we are calling on the government to improve the health of bathing waters and special nature sites as soon as possible, to make it safe for surfers, bathers and marine life in our waterways in the next term of government?
How to engage with your water company / water company CEO:
  • Contact your local water company CEO when there is sewage being discharged at your local spot via our Safer Seas and Rivers Service app
  • Ask your water company CEO to read the Water Quality Report and ask them what they are doing to tackle sewage pollution in your local area.
  • Attend stakeholder meetings such as ‘Your Water, Your Say’ meetings which allow you to question your water company on their upcoming plans for the environment, bills and sewage.
  • For the Your Water Your Say meetings, more information can be found here:

Key questions to ask your water company CEO

Why not send your water company CEO an email to let them know about the issues in your area? Or if you get the chance to attend a Your Water Your Say meeting, ask them in person.

Stop Breaking the Law:
Water companies are only legally allowed to use overflows to discharge untreated sewage in exceptional circumstances. We know however that many companies are breaking this law and using these overflows even in dry weather. This must stop.

  • Will you please just stop breaking the law?
  • How do you decide what is classed as exceptional circumstances, because your routine pollution doesn’t look very exceptional?

Stop Pollution for Profit:
We all know that water companies have been polluting for profit. Last year water companies paid out £965 million to shareholders and £16.5 million to CEOS whilst polluting on average 800 times a day. We want to know when water companies will put their customers and the environment ahead of filling the pockets of shareholders and execs.

  • Do you consider the impact on human health, the environment, or the local economy when you are deciding whether to pay out massive bonus to shareholders?
  • How will you make sure that money isn’t hived off to shareholders but instead reinvested into delivering environmental improvements?

Nature Based Solutions:
Instead of pouring loads of concrete and just building bigger and bigger storage tanks we want water companies to start working with nature to fix sewage pollution. Creating and restoring wetlands, tree planting and even making our rivers windier, can all slow the flow of water into the sewage system, thus stopping the need to use overflows all the time. It does all this whilst also helping to increase biodiversity, trap carbon and reduce flood risk.

  • How much have you invested in nature-based solutions? What percentage of investment is that?
  • How do you assess the co benefits of nature-based solutions can provide to the community and environment?

Ambitious Targets:
We want to know how ambitious your water company is trying to be. We know the government have set legal targets, but these should be the bare minimum not a cap on ambition.

  • When will you end untreated discharges affecting bathing waters and places were people use the water?
  • When will you end untreated discharges affecting protected nature sites?

The monitoring of sewage pollution has got way better in the last couple of years thanks to your tireless campaigning. But we still don’t have monitoring all around the country. And the info we do have is super complicated and is largely not available in real-time.

  • When will 100% of all Sewage discharges be monitored, including emergency overflow pipes and treated sewage, so we know the full-scale impact?
  • When will you start monitoring the impact of your overflows on our rivers and seas?

How else you can get involved

Sign both local and national sewage pollution petitions
We had over 173,000 people sign our ‘Dirty Money Petition’ and since June, it’s been a valuable tool to keep pressure on Ofwat and the water companies to do better. Petitions, big or small, have the power to bring about change at both a local and national scale.

Attend stakeholder engagement meetings
Whether it’s your water company’s ‘Your Water Your Say’ meeting or local stakeholder discussion groups, we want you to feel empowered to attend these meetings and challenge discussions around sewage pollution.

For the Your Water Your Say meetings, more information can be found here:

Contact your local SAS Rep and connect with your local SAS group
You can find out all about our Regional Reps and local activations here:

Get campaigning on the ground and organise a protest or demonstration in your local area!


Join or start your own bathing water designation group

If your favourite swimming, dipping or surf spot is not a designated bathing water it means the water quality is not monitored throughout the bathing season. Any coastal or inland water popular with bathers can be designated if it fulfils the criteria. More information can be found here:

We are supporting communities campaigning to get their inland bathing water designated. You can find out more on this designation process here:

Protecting Wild Waters – Surfers Against Sewage (

More information

Key facts to know about your area:

  • English water companies are privately owned.
  • English water companies have shareholders and therefore pay out dividends.
  • The English water companies are regulated by Ofwat and the Environment Agency (EA).
  • There were at least 301,091 Sewage discharges in England in 2022.
  • Nearly all sewage overflows (more than 91%) are currently monitored in England, with water companies required to reach 100% coverage by December this year.
  • Scottish Water is a publicly owned company.
  • It has no shareholders and therefore no dividend pay-outs unlike the privately owned English water companies.
  • Scottish Water is regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
  • There were more than 14,008 sewage discharges in Scotland in 2022.
  • Only 4% of sewage overflows are currently monitored.
  • There are two companies operating in Wales, Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) and Hafren Dyfrdwy (Dee Valley).
  • Hafren Dyfrdwy operates in Wales with a small area in England.
  • Dwr Cymru Welsh Water is the largest company which solely operates in Wales. It is a private, non-profit company and has no shareholders or government support.
  • Dwr Cymru Welsh Water is regulated by Ofwat and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
  • There were at least 74,066 sewage discharges in Wales in 2022.
  • Welsh Water has more overflows monitored (99%) for discharge frequency than any other UK water company.
Northern Ireland:
  • Northern Ireland Water is a publicly owned company
  • Northern Ireland Water is regulated by the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA).
  • Northern Ireland is not required to produce the same sewage discharge data and so falls far behind the rest of the UK for data monitoring.