Thousands of people are expected to take part in the first National Day of Action on Water Quality on Saturday 23 April, a mass protest calling on water companies to end the sewage scandal polluting UK waterways.

Ocean conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has joined forces with clean water campaign groups to organise 11 simultaneous protests against water companies from Scotland to Cornwall.

The action follows the public outcry over the sewage scandal in late 2021, which saw campaigners forcing the government to make changes to its flagship Environment Act.

The UK’s rivers and seas are in a critical state. Only 14% of UK rivers are currently rated as having ‘good’ ecological status, with none passing chemical tests. UK bathing water quality is the worst in Europe and Surfers Against Sewage found 75% of rivers tested posed a serious continuous risk to human health. In 2020 alone, sewage was released into the environment over 400,000 times, equating to 3.1 million hours of discharge. In 2021, sewage discharge notification issued for Bathing Waters increased by 80% on the previous year.

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, said: “We’ve called on government to address the sewage scandal. We’ve reported the health risks this pollution puts on all water users. We’ve exposed the regulators and testing regime for ignoring the truth. Now we need to take our message to End Sewage Pollution straight to the doors of water company HQs.

“On 23 April water lovers across the UK will come together to show water companies and the government that we are a unified movement that will not stand for this environmental destruction any longer.”

Surfers Against Sewage is collaborating with regional campaign groups including Welsh Rivers Union, Friends of Warleigh Weir and SOS Whitstable to maintain pressure on water companies who have dodged the issue for decades. Together, they are calling for an end to sewage pollution into UK bathing waters by 2030 – specifically:

1. Stronger and bolder targets to end untreated sewage discharge.
2. An enhanced testing regime which shows a true picture of the UK’s water quality in real time.
3. Nature restoration to reduce pressure and minimise impacts on sewage infrastructure.
4. Increased investment from industry in infrastructure to prevent destructive practices.

To find your local protest and register to take part, visit and join the conversation on social media by searching #EndSewagePollution.