Water warning on way for town’s beaches?

PUBLISHED: 09:55 15 December 2010

View of the Marine Lake and causeway, WsM.; 14-1-09

View of the Marine Lake and causeway, WsM.; 14-1-09

Copyright Archant Ltd

WARNING signs advising bathers not to enter the sea on Weston’s beaches may be put up if water standards do 
not improve.

The main beach and Uphill slipway are two of 20 beaches in the South West currently predicted by the Government to fail new European bathing water standards to be introduced in 2015.

The Environment Agency carries out the water checks on UK beaches each year and passes the results on to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) for it to produce its Good Beach Guide.

The 2010 season’s water quality results for both of Weston’s beaches have shown no improvement from the ‘basic’ rating and if things do not improve advisory notices against bathing could be displayed along them.

MCS pollution officer, Rachel Wyatt, said: “The problem for Weston is that from 2015 beaches will be graded for water quality using a four-year data set rather than a single season’s testing, as is currently the case.

“Failure to meet the ‘sufficient’ standard would mean, under the new European Bathing Waters Directive, that advice against bathing would have to be posted at the beach and this of course could have enormous consequences for the town.”

Barry Cook, co-owner of Weston’s kite surfing shop UFO, said the new standards will not deter him or other surfers from taking to Weston’s waters. The 28-year-old said: “We now have more kite surfers using Weston beach than windsurfers. If signs to do go up it won’t put be me off, but it could deter people who haven’t been in before.

“Just because the standards go up doesn’t mean the water changes. I think it’s clean enough and I have been going in for years.”

Wessex Water is currently working with the Environment Agency to try to pin down the source of the pollution problem using a new and expensive investigative technique called microbial source tracking. This involves regularly taking samples of sea water and testing it to see whether any faecal bacteria contamination can be pinned to a particular source – typically human sewage and livestock waste.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said that as Weston has the second highest tidal flow in the world this means there is a lot of silt in the water.

He added: “Our miles of golden sand are cleaned on a daily basis and we do have a beach management plan.”

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