The 2014 bathing water season runs from May to September when staff from the Environment Agency test the levels of bacteria in 20 samples taken from the water. The results of the tests are posted on our map for each bathing water.
Keith Ashcroft from the Environment Agency, said:
“When water quality does not meet the required standard we work with the local authority to inform the public. Our testing shows that the most likely sources of pollution come from households with wrongly connected drains, run off from agricultural land, sewer overflows following heavy rain and even dog poo that has washed into the sea. We all have a role to play in improving our bathing waters and people can make a stand against this localised pollution today by supporting the LOVEmyBEACH campaign.”
As well as the sampling, there is also a system in place to advise the public against swimming and paddling after heavy rain. Rain washes pollution into rivers, lakes and seas, causing short term pollution, which may last for up to 72 hours. Look out for an advice sign when visiting the beach after it’s rained.
The short term pollution (STP) scheme could help a number of North West bathing waters to meet the EU revised Bathing Water Directive. If a sign is displayed when the Environment Agency comes to test the water, and if certain other conditions are also satisfied, the results of that week’s test could be discounted from the overall score for the year.
This ensures that at beaches where water quality is normally good, the long term classifications will reflect this, tourism is supported and the local economy is protected. But most importantly, it makes sure that when bathing water is likely to have temporarily deteriorated, people are informed of the short term risks of swimming there.
Neil Jack, Chair of Turning tides, said: “Although due to the geography of the North West we face a tough challenge in meeting much stricter EU standards, through hard work and support for the LOVEmyBEACH campaign, we are committed to having beaches we can be proud of. That’s why we’re asking local communities and businesses to get behind us and help prevent pollution from getting into our water. You don’t have to live by the sea to make a difference. Taking simple steps such as not to pouring cooking fats, oils and grease down the sink, picking up your dog’s poo and putting it in the bin, not feeding the birds at the beach (yes really!) and checking your drain connections can really help make our seas cleaner.”
SEA LIFE Blackpool is a keen supporter of the LOVEmyBEACH campaign to reduce pollution that ends up in the sea and affects the water. Jenn Newton, SEA LIFE’s manager explains:
“We’re really proud how far the area’s come in improving the quality of water at our beaches. But we need to do more if we are to meet the stricter EU Directive coming into force in 2015. If the results over the previous four years are ‘poor’ under what’s called the ‘revised Bathing Water Directive’, signs will have to go up advising people not to swim or paddle. We don’t want that to happen. It’s important people know about the simple things that they can do which make a difference to the water quality. The standards may be changing but the sea is much cleaner than it used to be.”
SEA LIFE Blackpool supports the LOVEmyBEACH campaign through regular beach cleans, letting staff and visitors know how they can help at home and when visiting the area.
The LOVEmyBEACH campaign is a great way for anyone who lives, works or visits the North West to make a difference and help improve the North West’s bathing waters. And if you spot pollution, please call the Environment Agency incident line on 0800 80 70 60.