Around 40 English beaches are at risk of failing new regulations on sewage flow that will come into force from next year, the Environment Agency (EA) has warned.
The EA is testing more than 500 seaside locations across the UK, scanning for faecal bacteria and other pollutants that come from households and farms and can harm swimmers.
Beaches at Blackpool, Clacton, Morecambe and Margate suffer from pollution from farm run-off and sewage overflow from local homes, and are therefore likely to fail under new regulations on water quality, which will be much stricter form 2015.
Sewage pollution can lead to escherichia coli, intestinal enterococci, faecal coliforms and faecal streptococci being present in waters, meaning that swimmers could get gastroenteritis or other infections.
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Paul Hickey, the EA’s deputy director of water quality, said, “The seaside economy in England is worth around £3.6 billion each year – and every improvement in bathing water quality helps to protect that.
“Meeting tough new water quality targets has been a huge challenge, and local authorities, water companies, farmers, homeowners and businesses all have important parts to play in protecting and improving bathing water quality at the remaining beaches that are not yet up to scratch.”
The new EU water policy directive, effective from next year, will set measures twice stricter than the current ones. They include putting out a sign discouraging swimming in areas considered inadequate.
Despite the challenges faced by new rules, British beaches were recently praised for their water quality, with 73% of highly recommended by the Marine Conservation Society.
Photo: Ray Forster via flickr