The Environment Agency’s water quality sampling team will be out and about again this summer across the North East to monitor bathing water quality for the start of the bathing season.
Each year between May and September, the Environment Agency monitors bathing water quality at around 500 coastal and inland bathing waters in England and Wales. Samples are taken each week at every site throughout the summer months.
Last year, 98 per cent of bathing waters around England and Wales passed mandatory EC water quality standards this year, and 86 per cent of sites met the more stringent EC guideline standard – up from 32 per cent in 1990.
34 locations throughout the North East will be tested regularly, from Spittal in the north to Saltburn in the south of the region.
In 2010, nearly all of the North East’s bathing waters met the required European bathing water standard with many also reaching the excellent Guideline standard. The only bathing water not to meet the required standard was at Saltburn and officers are working to identify and reduce pollution sources.
Environment Agency officers in the North East have been working closely with Northumbrian Water and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council to improve bathing water quality at Saltburn and also to prepare for the revised bathing water directive which introduces tighter standards in 2015.
The work aims to reduce pollution by providing advice to farmers and businesses on how to prevent pollution and also involves a major investigation by Northumbrian Water to identify and then improve sewage discharges that could affect bathing water quality.
Earlier this year, the Environment Agency published detailed online profiles for every bathing site as part of its ongoing commitment to provide even more information on bathing water to the public.
The new bathing water profiles, online at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/bathingwaters, include maps, photos and links to the latest water quality results for each of the country’s designated coastal and inland bathing sites. The profiles have been released to help the public make more informed choices about the best locations to visit and enjoy.
Dominic Shepherd of the Environment Agency, said: “Bathing water quality around England and Wales has improved dramatically over the past twenty years and we are continuing to work with our partners towards further improvement.
“Our new profiles provide the most comprehensive information yet on the cleanliness of bathing waters, helping the public to make more informed choices about the best locations to bathe.
“A record number of beaches reached the highest European standards last year but we are not complacent. The Environment Agency is working hard to tackle all sources of pollution, alongside beach users, local authorities, farmers and water companies.”
The Environment Agency has helped to direct some £8 billion of water company investment to upgrade the country’s sewage system and reduce pollution in the past two decades, leading to huge improvements in bathing water quality.
However, there is more work to do to drive further improvements in water quality. The Environment Agency is working hard with others to identify and tackle sources of pollution at all bathing sites including those from land and road drainage.
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