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'IT COULD BE YOU MINISTER'

08:06 15th March 2003 by
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‘IT COULD BE YOU MINISTER’ – THAT GETS SICK FROM BATHING AT A GOVERNMENT PASSED
BEACH OF THE FUTURE!

Yes that’s right – it could be Water Minister Elliot Morley himself that gets
sick from bathing at a government passed beach if Environment Ministers agree
to implement proposed new laws from the European Commission on bathing water
quality.

Meeting in Brussels earlier this week, the UK government together with other
Member States played down World Health Organisation (WHO) science that reveals
the lower of the proposed new water quality standards as still presenting a
1 in 20 chance of bathers contracting gastro-intestinal illness from bathing
on a government passed beach!

The UK’s scepticism has led Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to today launch an
‘It Could Be You Minister’ postcard campaign.

The UK delegation meeting in Brussels believed that UK public health records
would show higher levels of gastro-intestinal illness if people were suffering
from this illness having spent time in the water. But it’s important to recognise
that many people will not visit the doctor for this type of illness. Plus GP’s
often fail to ask those who do visit the doctor whether they have been in the
water, tending to put the blame on something that has been eaten or a stomach
bug.

SAS have a huge medical database highlighting infections and illnesses water
users have contracted from using UK bathing waters all year round. It is therefore
disappointing to see the government react in this way and ‘rubbish’ the proposed
standard which SAS believe is not high enough to fully protect the health of
the UK’s bathers and water users.

Vicky Garner, Campaigns Director at SAS says: "The UK Environment Ministry
have failed to represent the UK water user at the first Environment Council
meeting of the Greek Presidency. The focus should be on how best to protect
the water user and by rubbishing even the lowest of the proposed new water quality
standards, the government are in danger of falling far short of doing that".

SAS have asked for an urgent meeting with Water Minister Elliot Morley to outline
the ways in which better protection can be given to the water user.

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