Clean Seas Please volunteers were pleasantly surprised by the state of the beach, not finding as much litter as they expected. Volunteers reminded each other that each piece of plastic or rusty metal was one less risk to birds, fish, animals and other beach users.
But participants did have a bone to pick with dog owners, as canine faeces featured rather heavily along the shore. Jessica Fay, from Clean Seas Please, said, “Dog poo is a tragic sight to spoil any location, whether it's on the pavement, in the local park or on the beach. It's not hard to simply put it in a bag and in one of the bins along the beach.” Dog faeces contains a large amount of Escherichia coli (E. coli), one of the things tested when measuring water quality.
Last year, when the Environment Agency warned that Hastings beach might fail the new water quality tests, Hastings Borough Council and community groups including Clean Seas Please sprang to action. As well as the movement to clean visible litter from the seafront, Southern Water has undertaken an extensive programme of sewer investigations and improvement work, while Hastings Borough Council has focussed their efforts on cleaning up the stream that flows into the sea at Hastings beach.
The stream, which runs through Alexandra Park, was one of the sources of pollution in previous water quality tests. “We found that some houses were wrongly discharging waste water into this stream because of bad plumbing, and this has now been corrected,” explained Council spokesperson Kevin Boorman. “And we are taking action to enhance the quality of the water by improving its natural filtration, through the use of reed beds.” Hastings Borough Council is now “optimistic” that Hastings will meet the new bathing water quality standards in 2016.
Clean Seas Please thanked the volunteers who attended the beach clean, as well as more than 300 people who shared the event on social media. Jessica Fay noted, “Raising awareness is the first milestone for our campaign and support like that makes it all worth it.”