Our seas and rivers have never been in a worse state after years of neglect by the water companies. Now, we routinely check the sewage app alongside the weather. Meet the new CEO of Surfers Against Sewage who plans to turn the tide.

Lyme Regis on the south coast of England is an old and beautiful town. The picturesque River Lym runs through it, easing past quaint houses, leafy banks and beautiful beaches before flowing into the English Channel. The locals, though, keep their dogs on a tight leash near their river. And you won’t see anyone dipping their toes in it during hot weather. The reason? High levels of potentially dangerous faecal bacteria. A polite way of saying it’s a river full of literal crap.

One of those locals is Giles Bristow, a member of the Lyme Regis RNLI (Royal National Lifeboats Institution) crew and avid open-water swimmer, who says, “Our river has been declared ecologically dead because of sewage – how can that be? It’s tragic.”

Bristow is also the new chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), the marine conservation charity famous for its gas mask-wearing members wielding surfboards as placards in protest about the state of our oceans and beaches. Now there’s a new face behind the gas mask.

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