Thursday, 13 November 2008

Beaches fail bathing water standards because of wet summer

THE exceptionally wet summer weather has resulted in some of West Somerset’s most popular bathing waters failing advisory water quality standards.
Blue Anchor West and Dunster North West both failed to meet the ‘guideline’ standard which the beaches would be required to achieve to qualify for a Blue Flag award.
It follows one of the wettest summers on record which has led to many beaches around the Westcountry failing even the mandatory basic water quality standards.
The Environment Agency said heavy rainfall increased storm overflows from sewers, diffuse pollution, and run-off from farmland and urban areas.
This resulted in an increase in pollutants entering rivers and streams and flowing into some bathing waters around the coast.
According to the Meteorological Office, the period between May to September, when 20 water samples were taken from each of the bathing waters, there was more rain in the South West than anywhere else in England.
Environment Agency regional director Richard Cresswell said: “There is a direct link between rainfall and bathing water quality.
“We saw an extraordinary amount of rainfall during the summer and this caused an increase in the amount of pollution in some of the region’s bathing waters because of diffuse run-off, both from farmland and towns.
“Pollution is caused by, or attributable to, a number of sources.
“These include sewage from combined sewage overflows, which occurs when heavy or persistent rainfall can lead to the capacity of the sewage system being exceeded.
“There is also run-off from urban areas that is polluted with dog faeces or bird droppings and run-off from farms and fields carrying farm animal faeces.
“Our monitoring of bathing water quality identifies where improvements are required and helps in our understanding of the causes of failure.
“We will continue to work closely with the water companies, local authorities, the agricultural community, and others involved in the water environment to find solutions where bathing waters have failed to meet the required standards.”
The Environment Agency has been working with farmers to help tackle the issue of water pollution from agricultural land and has already called on the water industry to make appropriate investments in its infrastructure.
Poorly maintained and ageing sewage pipes are a key cause of water pollution, particularly during flooding.
Water companies must also ensure critical infrastructure, such as sewage treatment plans, are resilient to flooding to help prevent pollution.
  • Our photograph shows the beach at Blue Anchor. Photo submitted.

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