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Cornish Beaches Fail Clean Water Checks

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7:07am 7th November 2012
(Updated 7:07am 7th November 2012)

Life is not a beach in Cornwall.

The latest water quality test results have been released.

Seaton, East Looe, Summerleaze at Bude and Wherry Town in Mount's Bay have all failed basic checks.

The number that has not passed is being blamed on the summer downpours. Experts have told Pirate FM global warming could mean that happens more often, with the Duchy's water quality taking a hit.

There are fears stricter tests, due to be brought-in in 2015, could make things worse.

Richard Gilpin from South West Water said: "We're ahead of the game, we're monitoring and if we need to make any strategic investments to help improve the bathing water quality, we're ready to go. A lot of other work is going on with farming and integrated urban drainage systems, for misconnections, to make sure that all our beaches pass the new directive in 2015.

"Only half of this year's failures have occurred during operations of our sewer network. It's a collective that needs to be working in partnership looking at all the different issues be it agricultural, run-off, private sewage, misconnections. We've got some money identified and we're ready to go once our regulators give us their approval."

The Environment Agency says that despite the unusually high levels of rainfall, 92% of the 193 beaches in the South West still passed the European standards.
 
'An encouraging turn around in bathing water quality results at several beaches has been due to improvements in sewerage infrastructure by water companies, the Environment Agency successfully investigating pollution issues such as rural and urban run-off from land, and detecting misconnections to the sewerage systems.
 
'But work still needs to continue. Exceptionally heavy rainfall results in more pollution being washed into our bathing waters and due to climate change, these extreme weather events could occur more often. There are six main sources of pollution, some of which can increase as a result of heavy rain:
 
1.    Rain water running off from farmland
2.    Rainwater draining off populated areas
3.    Wrongly connected drains from houses and businesses that pollute surface water systems
4.    Animal and bird faeces on or near beaches (contains higher levels of bacteria than human faeces)
5.    Items that are put down drains and toilets that clog up the sewerage system
6.    Sewage overflows which activate in heavy rainfall to prevent the system backing up into houses
 
Richard Cresswell, Environment Agency Director for the South West, said: "Bathing water quality has improved significantly over the past two decades, but this year's significant rainfall over the summer has impacted on bathing water quality around the coast, particularly in the South West.
 
"During intense rainfall, pollution from farmland, roads, and drains is washed into water courses that finally end up in the sea. Water companies also operate Combined Sewage Overflows to prevent sewage from backing up and flooding people's homes.
 
"This very wet year has re-emphasised that more needs to be done by water companies, businesses, farmers and local authorities to improve the water at Britain's beaches and meet more stringent water quality targets, which will come into force in 2015. With even tighter standards for our bathing waters coming into force we really do need everyone to take action now."

7:07am 7th November 2012

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