Cleaner Seas in the North West!

No matter whether you enjoy a swim, paddle or stroll along one of the region’s beautiful beaches, you can rest assured that the North West has some of the cleanest bathing waters in the UK.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published statistics that reveal that 97% of the North West’s bathing waters meet the government’s required standards for water quality.

The 2018 classifications of bathing waters across the North West (26 coastal, 4 in-land) are;

10 are Excellent – the highest, cleanest class and the required standard to quality for Blue Flag status; 16 are Good – generally good water quality; 3 are Sufficient – the water meets minimum standard and 1 is Poor.

You can check the water quality for your nearest beach by using our map feature.

One of the highlights from this year’s results is on Walney Island, where two bathing water sites have improved on their classification. Both Sandy Gap and West Shore have achieved Good status, an excellent boost for Cumbria’s coastline.

All bathing waters on the Sefton and Wirral coast are rated either Good or Excellent, and so are the only fresh water sites in the region. All four bathing locations on Lake Windermere are, once again, rated Excellent.

A range of stakeholders have contributed to reducing pollution and improving the regions rivers, lakes and the sea, including the Environment Agency, United Utilities and the local authorities.

Additionally, hundreds of residents from across the North West have engaged with LOVEmyBEACH; acting on advice related to what not to flush and picking up after their dogs at the beach. Even though lots of good work has already been done, there’s still more to do. Why not see how you can help our coastline from the comfort of your own home by making simple, easy changes or come along and enjoy the scenery by taking part in a beach clean.

Responsible dog owners #binit4beaches!

LOVEmyBEACH is supporting the latest #binit4beaches campaign. We’re asking all dog owners who love to take their pooch for a walk on the beach, to pledge to always pick up their poo!

It’s not the most glamorous job in the world but it has to be done. Just one gram of dog poo is enough to affect the quality of more than one million litres of seawater. Dog faeces contain lots of harmful bacteria that can cause problems for both humans and wildlife. It can mean health problems, such as eye/ear infections and upset tummies for bathers and paddlers that come into contact with contaminated water.

But why not just let the tide wash it away? Unfortunately dog poo doesn’t just disappear when it comes into contact with the sea, it dissolves and the bacteria will keep on hanging around in the shallow waters – exactly where people like to paddle. Protect other beach users by being a responsible owner and clearing up your dog’s mess.

So, make sure you know your poos and don’ts! Always pick up your dog’s poo at the beach (and everywhere else!) and make sure the bag goes in the bin. Leaving poo bags hanging from trees and bushes or just on the floor adds plastic pollution into the mix – something we definitely need to avoid.

Check your septic tank for World Rivers Day!

Is your house one of the 60,000 properties in the North West with a private sewage treatment system or septic tank? There are lots of (simple) ways you can help protect our rivers and seas in the spirit of Word Rivers Day!

Water samples taken by the Environment Agency and the Rivers Trust highlight that certain waterways are failing the safe limits for faecal bacteria found in the water, sometimes by as much as 10 times over the limit, due to poorly maintained septic tanks.

Call of Nature is a region-wide campaign raising awareness of the pollution risks that badly maintained septic tanks, cesspits and package sewage treatment plants can cause to the North West’s rivers and waterways. The campaign advises how everyone can take action to ensure private systems are well maintained in order to protect their local environment.

The North West region has the highest number of private sewerage systems in the UK; with 60,000 properties not connected to the public sewer network. Considering the average septic tank for a household of four holds 2720 litres of wastewater, the combined volume of wastewater in the regions septic tanks would fill the equivalent of 65 Olympic size swimming pools!

A well maintained septic tank does not cause any problems; they work like miniature sewage treatment systems, which store and treat wastewater from households. However, when they are not serviced properly, there can be a number of negative consequences for rivers, seas and wildlife.

Household wastewater is teeming with bacteria, viruses and chemicals that can pass into and contaminate rivers, streams and seas if the system is faulty. Pollutants like these can harm wildlife; killing native plants, fish and shellfish. The pollutants also increase the chance of illnesses such as eye and ear infections for people using the water, from paddlers to water sports users.

Private sewage treatment systems need to be repaired or replaced if they are not in good working order by an accredited service engineer. Signs that it needs repairing or replacing will include; leaks, cracks in tank walls or pipes, blocked pipes, pools of water around the drainage point, sewage smells, a failed motor, a failed pump or a failed electrical supply.
An online toolkit is available at www.callofnature.info