How To Improve Water Quality On Our Beaches

The 2012 Good Beach Guide by the Marine Conservation Society has found a dramatic reduction in the number of beaches meeting the minimum standards for water quality and pollution. In all, 42 of the U.K.’s beaches failed to meet European standards for bathing water quality, which is 17 more than the previous year.

Falling standards

Of the 754 bathing beaches tested during 2012, just 403 were passed as having excellent quality water, which is 113 less than the previous year. The initial excuses blame the many months of rain and flooding across the UK which washed excess pollution from towns and cities and farms and sewers into the sea areas. In particular, it is known that sewage and animal waste contains bacteria and viruses which can cause nose, throat and ear infections and also gastroenteritis.

Unfortunately, bathers cannot usually see the pollution when they are swimming in the sea. Scientists measure the presence of E. coli and enterococci, which originally comes from the guts of mammals, to test the increased risk of gastroenteritis in the water.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) expects authorities to take action to reduce pollution from both farmland and housing areas, particularly as the standards acceptable for bathing water are being made much stricter from 2015.

Finding a solution

Local authorities and communities need to recognise that there’s a large problem that must to be dealt with, but it’s not easy to stop sewage and animal waste reaching the sea.

The latest MCS results show that beaches all around Britain’s coast were hit heavily by poor weather during the year but even in the north-east of England where the majority of the beaches are usually the right side of the safety record, 31 out of 64 beaches fell below the minimum standards. In the north-west of England just 3 out of 37 beaches reached the highest standard, which is the lowest number of good quality beaches over the last 10 years.

The experts suggest that one particularly bad summer shouldn’t affect a beach’s classification, but a beach that has been affected for years running will be regarded as not reaching the minimum standards for water quality.

The South West of England, which is often regarded as one of the most popular areas for people to visit for their summer holidays, was particularly hit by the poor weather and flooding during the year. Just 110 of the 196 beaches met the excellent quality standards required with 16 beaches completely failing to reach the minimum standards.

The new rules

From 2015 the European Bathing Water Directive will monitor water and beaches throughout Europe and give them a classification based upon a four-year period so that individual years won’t throw up irrelevant results. But unless countries are going to change the way in which sewage farm and city waste reaches the sea, they will be hard pushed not to see more beaches fail to meet the four-year average requirements.

The environmental agency claims that the U.K.’s beaches are the dirtiest they’ve been for over a decade. They blame droughts, wet weather and contamination mostly from overflowing sewers and run-offs from farms. These are all issues we have to solve.

Author bio:
Damien Higgins writes for Eden Springs. Office water coolers from Eden provide a refreshing drink.

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