Friday, November 9, 2012
Wet summer produces mixed bag for local beaches in bathing water probe.
THE second-wettest summer on record has produced varied water quality results for North Devon beaches.
Following months of unprecedented rainfall in the South West, only Instow failed to meet basic standards under the current European Bathing Water Directive, according to an Environment Agency study.
But there was better news for Combe Martin and Wildersmouth beaches, which both achieved the mandatory standard this year after falling short in 2011. However, the beaches failed to meet the tougher guideline standard for the second year running, as did Ilfracombe’s Hele Bay.
Hartland Quay, Westward Ho!, Putsborough, Combesgate Beach, Ilfracombe Tunnels all achieved the guideline standards, as did Croyde, Woolacombe, Lynmouth after failing to do so in 2011.
It was a different story for Saunton Sands which was unable to register the higher water quality standard this time around.
Instow was one of 16 bathing waters to fail water quality results in the South West, compared to two last year.
But, despite the unusually high levels of rainfall, 92 per cent of the region’s 193 beaches still passed the European standards.
Richard Cresswell, Environment Agency director for the South West, said: “Bathing water quality has improved significantly over the past two decades, but this year’s significant rainfall over the summer has impacted on bathing water quality around the coast, particularly in the South West.
“During intense rainfall, pollution from farmland, roads, and drains is washed into water courses that finally end up in the sea. Water companies also operate Combined Sewage Overflows to prevent sewage from backing up and flooding people’s homes.
“This very wet year has re-emphasised that more needs to be done by water companies, businesses, farmers and local authorities to improve the water at Britain’s beaches and meet more stringent water quality targets, which will come into force in 2015.
“With even tighter standards for our bathing waters coming into force we really do need everyone to take action now,” added Richard Cresswell.