Tackling dog mess
PUBLISHED: 08:00 10 June 2016
A new campaign has been launched to tackle ‘unacceptable’ dog fouling on beaches in a bid to help improve Burnham’s poor seawater.
The town’s water is now rated in the worst possible category, following the introduction of stricter EU regulations, but steps are being taken to improve it.
Harriet Yates-Smith is spearheading a Litter Free Coast and Sea Somerset campaign, having taken on the role of Burnham’s coastal officer in March.
Since her appointment, she has held a number of public meetings and said she found dog fouling is the biggest concern in the community.
She said: “Residents tell us dog mess is one of the most unacceptable and offensive types of litter on our streets and beaches.
“In our recent survey, 61 per cent of the community told us dog fouling was one of their top three issues to be tackled in order to improve bathing water quality in Burnham and keep its beaches clean.”
Wessex Water has invested £39million in a bid to improve the water.
However, warning signs were put in place on the beach last month, advising people not to swim in the water.
The town’s popular annual Stert Island swim was also cancelled due to EU regulations, ending a 15-year tradition.
But Ms Yates-Smith is urging people to get involved with the campaign to clean up the beach and to stay calm about the reported dangers of the water.
Ms Yates-Smith held another meeting earlier this week to gather ideas on how to address dog fouling and improve the water quality as a result.
She said: “This meeting was because we need the expertise of the community.
“They are the ones who walk their dogs on the beaches and roads every day and know what the problems are – so this is an opportunity to hear their ideas about how they can help reduce them.
“As well as being unpleasant to come across, dog waste can contain high levels of bacteria – much higher than human waste – which can affect bathing water quality.
“It’s important we do what we can to make sure it doesn’t find its way into our ocean.
“Small actions can help to reduce blockages and help prevent sewage from finding its way into rivers and streams during periods of heavy rain.
“Dog faeces not only contain bacteria, but there is also the potential that it could contain toxocara, a parasite that can cause illness in humans.”
This campaign is also being supported by Bridge Vets, in Highbridge.