Thirty of the region’s 34 bathing waters have either an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ water quality status, it is announced by DEFRA today.
Nineteen of the North East bathing waters have met the excellent standard, 11 are classified as good, three as sufficient and one as poor.
The method of assessing bathing water quality has changed from this year. Until now 20 samples taken by the Environment Agency in any current year have been used to establish if bathing waters meet either the mandatory standard or the stricter guideline standard.
From this year, compliance is based on the current and previous three years of sample data (80 samples) and is assessed against four new and stricter classifications of poor (failure to meet minimum requirement), sufficient, good and excellent. These samples are taken by the Environment Agency between May and September each year.
Northumbrian Water’s Wastewater Director, Richard Warneford, said: "Our £1 billion of investment over the last two decades is reflected in today’s results, which are in stark contrast to those in 2000, when only four of the bathing waters in the North East achieved the old guideline standard.
"Looking after the environment is at the heart of what we do. We are extremely proud of the contribution we have made to protect and improve our region’s stunning coastline through both investment and partnership working and we appreciate the significant impact that beaches have on tourism, the economy and the leisure industry. Partnership working is particularly important as diffuse pollution, which includes run off from roads and agricultural land, can also have a negative impact on bathing water quality.
"It is worth bearing in mind that the bathing water results in 2012, when our region experienced one of the wettest years in 100 years, are reflected in this year’s results. We are certainly not complacent and have already carried out work, or have plans in place, to improve the bathing water quality at locations that have achieved either a sufficient or poor status this year."
North East bathing waters which have achieved the excellent standard are Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses North, Beadnell, Low Newton, Warkworth, Amble Links, Druridge Bay North, Druridge Bay South, Newbiggin North, Newbiggin South, Blyth South, Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Long Sands North, Tynemouth Long Sands South, Tynemouth King Edwards Bay, South Shields, Seaburn (Whitburn North), Roker (Whitburn South) and Seaton Carew (North Gare).
Those that have achieved the good standard are Seaton Sluice, Tynemouth Cullercoats, Marsden, Crimdon, Seaton Carew (Centre), Redcar Coatham, Redcar Lifeboat Station, Redcar Granville, Redcar Stray, Marske Sands and Saltburn. Seaham Hall, Seaham and Seaton Carew (North) are classified as sufficient and Spittal is the only bathing water to be classified as poor.
This year Northumbrian Water has carried out work to increase storm water storage and reduce the amount of wastewater that spills into the sea at Seaham and Seaham Hall. A multi-million pound scheme has also been carried out to prevent wastewater from flowing into Skelton Beck and to increase storm water storage at Guisborough, both of which will improve Saltburn’s bathing water quality.
The water company is also planning to identify sources of pollution affecting the eight bathing waters in Seaton Carew, Redcar and Marske. This work will be completed in 2017.
Bathing water quality at Spittal is impacted by many sources, including pollution from the River Tweed. Further investigation work is to be carried out to understand the cost of required work to improve the water quality status to sufficient.
Northumbrian Water is encouraging their customers to also help to look after the region’s bathing waters by only flushing toilet paper, pee and poo down the loo and by not putting grease and fat down drains. This will help to prevent blockages and potential pollution.
For further information contact Cara Charlton on 0191 301 6720, 07764 926 728 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• For more detailed information on these bathing water results please log on to https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bathing-waters#2015-uk-bathing-water-monitoring-results.
• Each bathing water will have to display a standardised symbol for its classification. The symbols and further information can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-bathing/signs.htm. If a bathing water is designated at poor it must also display the standardised ‘advice against bathing’ symbol.
• The Environment Agency publishes information about water quality at England’s bathing waters on their online bathing water data explorer, which can be found at www.gov.uk/quality-of-local-bathing-water.