Volunteers wanted for Beach Clean event

The National Schools Partnership is looking for volunteers with an interest in their local marine life to help on a Beach Clean awareness project.
The Partnership is working with the Marine Conservation Society on the Big Beach Clean-up event in May, where volunteers will be cleaning 50 beaches across the UK. This includes an M&S/MCS sponsored campaign called School of Fish (www.school-of-fish.co.uk) which educates primary school children about the marine environment. Read more on the BSAC website…

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SLS GB Launch Event Water Safety guidance

Last week (26 April), SLS GB in partnership with RoSPA and with the support of SLS GB insurer Sportscover, launched a new national guidance document on the management of event water safety.
The guidance document, a product of extensive research thanks to the support of Sportscover and Derby University was launched at the RoSPA National Water Safety Conference to an audience of more than 100 experts for further consultation.
With the recent rise in mass participation and charity events there has been much demand on the expertise of SLSGB’s clubs to provide support to these events in the form of safety cover. However, in the absence of national guidance on hazard identification, risk management, competencies and equipment, SLSGB members often found themselves working under varying standards of event management. A draft copy of the guidance will be available shortly for you to provide your feedback to the consultation. Read more on the Surf Life Saving GB website…

Water safety industry will not let standards slip, despite tough times.

Today’s National Water Safety Seminar, hosted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, will hear that the water safety industry is committed to maintaining and improving standards, despite the continuation of tough operating conditions.
The Birmingham event, supported by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), is bringing together more than 100 professionals whose work encompasses all aspects of water safety – beach, inland water (e.g. rivers and lakes), sea, swimming pool and water sports safety.
It comes just weeks after new figures from the NWSF revealed there were 420 water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes in the UK in 2010.

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager, said: “The UK has a great track-record of different partners coming together to work on water safety, and it’s this joint approach that is proving crucial in the midst of tough financial conditions. Organisations from the private, public and third sectors with responsibility for water safety have all experienced budget tightening in recent years. Despite this, the strong message from the sector as a whole is that we will not accept deterioration in the standards and innovation for which the UK is well respected across the world. The fact that more than 400 lives were lost from accidents or natural causes in water in 2010 provides the impetus for staying focused on prevention. Industry partners also remain committed to being balanced and proportionate in their approach to water safety and to using robust evidence to better understand risks and how to manage them. We have also learned from regulators like the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Health and Safety Executive about how they are making the most of their resources for the future”. Today’s national seminar, which includes the presentation of world-leading research, the launch of new industry-generated safety guidance and an update about the UK’s innovative Water Incident Database, will demonstrate the breadth of water safety activities and the determination that exists to see fewer deaths and serious injuries in preventable water-related accidents”. Read the full press release on the RoSPA website…

Drowning Prevention: In the spotlight at National Safety Seminar this week

The National Water Safety Seminar, hosted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, takes place on Thursday, bringing together more than 100 professionals with responsibility for water safety across the UK. The seminar, which comes just weeks after new figures revealed there were 420 water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes in the UK in 2010, will focus on how accident prevention standards can be taken forward despite difficult financial operating conditions. All parts of the water safety industry will be represented, including beach, inland water (e.g. rivers and lakes), sea, swimming pool and water sports safety. The seminar, taking place at ETC Venues – Maple House, Birmingham, is supported by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).
Key presentations will be given by:
– Tony Stammers, head of health and safety at British Waterways: how practitioners can balance the cost of protection without sacrificing high standards
– David Walker, leisure safety manager at RoSPA, and Mike Barrett, of the NWSF: how the pioneering Water Incident Database (WAID) has developed since 2009
– Richard Wilson, head of the office of the chief executive at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency: the recently published Blueprint for Future Coastguard Organisation in the UK and its implications for coastal safety ·
– Mike Vlasto OBE, chairman of the NWSF: the future of water safety and the challenges that may lie ahead over the next 18 months
– NWSF members – sea, beach, inland, swimming pool and water sports updates.
Read the full press release on the RoSPA website…

Canal & River Trust appoints heritage committee

The Canal & River Trust, the charity that will become the guardian of British Waterways’ 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales in 2012, has confirmed appointments to a new committee that will help to protect the heritage of the waterways.
The Canal & River Trust will be responsible for the third largest collection of listed buildings in the UK and the committee of nine people, chaired by former Chairman of English Heritage, Sir Neil Cossons, will provide valuable advice and support on heritage and conservation issues. Read more on the British Waterways website…

Environment Agency hosts bathing water seminars for beach controllers

The Environment Agency will host bathing water seminars for beach controllers across the South West this week. The two seminars held jointly with DeFRA are designed to increase awareness of the European wide revised Bathing Water Directive among Beach controllers and clarify their understanding of the new directive requirements and timetable. The revised Bathing Water Directive, introduced in 2006, significantly changes the way bathing waters are managed. Bathing water quality standards are getting tighter. The Directive introduces a new classification scheme:

– Excellent – which is approximately twice as stringent as the current guideline standard
– Good – similar to the current guideline standard
– Sufficient – tighter than the current mandatory standard
– Poor – normally non-compliant waters

The Agency will sample on a four year rolling programme and report against these new classifications for the first time in 2015. All bathing waters need to achieve a classification of at least ‘sufficient’. The second important strand of the revised Directive is a greater emphasis on beach controllers providing public information at the beach. If a site is classified as poor in 2015 measures must be taken and advice against bathing posted at the bathing water by the beach controller.
Significantly, if a site is classified as poor for five consecutive seasons permanent advice against bathing must be issued and posted at the beach by the beach controller. Some sites in the South West that meet the current standards are at risk of not meeting the new standards in 2015. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Come and explore the secret history of your local West Midlands Canal

Local residents are invited to delve into the history of West Midlands’ 200 year old canal network and find out why the waterways in this area are so special.
The Canal & River Trust, the new waterways charity taking over responsibility of the local canals and rivers from British Waterways, are supporting a series of canal heritage walks which will allow local people to discover the secrets and mysteries of their local black country canal. The volunteer led walks, taking place between the 29 April and the 30 May, will allow visitors to take in a number of canals in the West Midlands including those around Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley, Kidderminster and Stourport. As well as being able to explore and find out more about these historic waterways local people will also be able to visit a pumping station and view a lime kiln – both of which were important to the waterways during the canal building era. Read more on the British Waterways website…

Water company fined for discharging poor quality sewage effluent into Tamar estuary

South West Water has been ordered to pay £20,226 in fines and costs for discharging poor quality sewage effluent into the Tamar estuary. The case was brought by the Environment Agency. On February 16, 2011 South West Water reported to the Agency that an effluent sample taken six days earlier had failed the required standard and that the treatment works was continuing to discharge poor quality effluent.
An Agency officer visited the works and was told the site was experiencing a series of problems. There were longstanding problems at the inlet screens which remove bulky materials from the sewage as it enters the works. This had resulted in rags and other debris passing forward into the primary settlement tanks which, in turn, reduced the effectiveness of the biological treatment. The situation was made worse by the fact that five out of 16 paddle aerators used in the treatment process were broken. South West Water said there had been further problems from vandalism where foreign objects had been deliberately thrown into the final treatment tanks. As a result, the sewage had not undergone the full treatment process and the final effluent was much stronger than it should have been. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Long term warning as drought spreads

People and businesses urged to use water wisely as Environment Agency warns drought could last beyond Christmas. Seventeen counties in South West England and the Midlands have moved into official drought status, after two dry winters have left rivers and ground waters depleted. While public water supplies in these areas are unlikely to be affected, the lack of rain is taking its toll on the environment and farmers – causing problems for wildlife, wetlands and crop production. The Environment Agency is urging businesses, water companies and consumers to all play their part by using water wisely, to help conserve precious water supplies. Read more on the Environment Agency website…