Swimmers fear for their health as report reveals Devon rivers are 'dangerously polluted'

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Two major rivers in Devon which are popular with wild swimmers are dangerously polluted, according to a new report.Research from Surfers Against Sewage shows the River Dart and the River Erme contain high levels of bacteria. The campaign group says this is caused by sewage and water run off from farms.

Campaigners want water companies and the government to take urgent action.

Ella Foote, editor of Outdoor Swimmer magazine, said: "All swimmers are really worried about the conditions of our rivers. The news today is sort of not really surprising and very sad.

"However, I welcome more and more information and data, which is what we're being provided so that we can take action to get the important discussions done at the top levels."

Ella says more data and research will put pressure on those in power. Credit: ITV News

A group of "citizen scientists" have been testing the water at popular swimming spots all around the country on behalf of Surfers Against Sewage.

Their findings show that 60% of bathing spots were found to have such high levels of bacteria that they are unsafe for humans to swim in.

Josh Harris, from Surfers Against Sewage, said: "We know this is having a devastating impact on people's livelihoods. People's health is being harmed, and we just think that's completely unacceptable.

"So we're calling on communities across the UK to make a stand against sewage pollution."

60 per cent of the UK's bathing spots are polluted, according to the report. Credit: ITV News

Reuben Santer, a secondary school physics teacher from Exmouth, had to stop working due to becoming ill from pollution.

After a surf at Saunton Beach in Devon, a doctor confirmed that he had contracted labyrinthitis - an inner ear infection - due to either a virus or bacteria entering his ear.

This developed into an incurable disease called Meniere’s disease.

He said: “I have never been anxious about anything in my life, but this experience has definitely made me worried that symptoms will come back when driving, surfing, at work or any situation where vertigo could be dangerous.”

In a statement, the government's minister for water, Rebecca Pow, said: "We agree the volume of pollution in our waters is utterly unacceptable."

She added the government's water plan will "deliver more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement to ensure every overflow is monitored".