More detailed information about bathing water quality is now just a click away as Northumbrian Water launches the ‘Beach Aware’ section on its website.
Beach goers who visit the North East’s coastline can now check if and when a combined sewer overflow (CSO) has operated in real time, at any time during the year, by logging onto http://www.nwl.co.uk/your-home/your-services/beachaware.aspx.
Combined sewer overflows, which are consented by the Environment Agency to spill diluted waste water or surface water, in times of heavy rainfall, are an essential part of Northumbrian Water’s vast 30,000 kilometre sewer network to help protect homes, businesses and land from flooding.
Bathing water quality can also be affected by other factors including run-off from agriculture, urban and highway areas.
Northumbrian Water’s wastewater director, Richard Warneford, explains: “A map of the region on our website highlights each of the 34 bathing waters in the North East with a coloured pin. Normally a blue pin is on display and confirms that no key CSOs have operated that could have an impact on that particular bathing water.
“When an overflow has been spilling for more than half an hour the pin colour will change from blue to amber. The pin will only return back to blue once the CSO has stopped discharging continuously for 12 hours – which is a full tidal cycle.
“We are very fortunate to have a stunning coastline in the North East and our commitment to improving and protecting bathing water quality is reflected in the hundreds of millions of pounds we have invested in this area over the last two decades. Giving people this extra information means they will be able to enjoy their time at the beach more as they will have extra peace of mind.”
If the pin is yellow, it means that there is an issue with the transfer of information from the beach site to the company’s website and this will be rectified as soon as possible. White pins indicate that Northumbrian Water has no assets which could impact on that particular bathing water.
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “Combined sewer overflows help to reduce flood risk to many built-up areas across the country, but when they operate at times of heavy rainfall, water quality can temporarily drop as a result. Northumbrian Water’s ‘Beach Aware’ information should therefore be extremely useful to beach users. Combined with other information being made available to the public on bathing water quality, it will help them discover the beaches with the cleanest water quality so they can make informed choices on where to bathe.”
Thirty-one of the region’s 34 bathing waters have a consented CSO that could potentially have an impact upon it – they are Spittal, Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses North, Beadnell, Warkworth, Amble Links, Druridge Bay North, Druridge Bay South, Newbiggin North, Newbiggin South, Blyth South Beach, Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Cullercoats, Tynemouth Longsands North, Tynemouth Longsands South, Tynemouth King Edwards Bay, Marsden, Whitburn North, Roker/Whitburn South, Seaham Beach, Seaham Hall, Crimdon, Seaton Carew North, Seaton Carew Centre, Redcar Coatham, Redcar Lifeboat Station, Redcar Granville, Redcar Stray, Marske Sands and Saltburn.
As there are no CSOs at Low Newton, South Shields and Seaton Carew North Gare these bathing waters are not affected.
For further information, contact Cara Charlton on 0191 301 6720.
Providing this information is part of a national Cleaner Seas Forum campaign which promotes better information about bathing waters. The Cleaner Seas Forum is a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) sponsored partnership and includes DEFRA, the Environment Agency, Keep Britain Tidy, British Resorts and Destinations Assocation, the Health Protection Agency, Consumer Council for Water, the Marine Conservation Society, Water UK, Water Companies, Bathing Water Controllers and Surfers Against Sewage.