Best-ever bathing water results
The Westcountry has just recorded its best-ever bathing water quality results!
The figures, which were announced today (Monday 4 December) by the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions and the Environment Agency, show the lowest ever number of failures of the mandatory European bathing water compliance standards in the region - with only six beaches failing the tough standards.
Best-ever bathing water results
That means that out of 141 beaches regularly monitored in Devon and Cornwall by the EA, almost 96% complied with the standards - compared with 89% last year.
There was also a marked increase in the number of bathing waters meeting the even more stringent guideline standards - the figure is up to 61% from 47% in the previous year.
SWW's Operations Director Dr Stephen Bird said today: "This really is great news for the region. SWW has been undertaking one of the biggest environmental improvement operations in the world through our £1 billion 'Clean Sweep' coastal sewage modernisation programme.
"This is a real dividend for customers in this region in terms of the huge investment that has been made to bring waste water treatment for the South West into the 21st century."
At four of the six beaches that failed the mandatory standards, SWW has schemes either planned or underway that will improve unsatisfactory old sewage discharges. In the cases of Lyme Regis and Ilfracombe, SWW has already built new waste water treatment works complete with UV disinfection which is benefiting a number of bathing waters in both towns - but the two failed samples occurred in only one bathing water, in each case where it is suspected a local stream was affected by heavy rainfall.
Dr Bird added: "We are by no means complacent. We have already identified the schemes we will deliver over the next five years. Our aim is clear - that no public sewage discharge for which SWW is responsible should contribute to a failure of the European bathing water standards."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The European Bathing Waters Directive sets down minimum (Mandatory) standards - these being a maximum of 2,000 faecal coliform per 100 ml of bathing water.
The Directive also sets out Guideline standards which every state should be striving to achieve as highly desirable - these being a maximum of 100 organism per 100 ml of bathing water of either faecal coliform or faecal streptococci.
The Environment Agency takes 20 samples from coastal waters during the bathing season between May and September every year - if more than one sample 'fails' the testing regime, the bathing water concerned is deemed to have failed for the season.
The results were achieved despite poor weather which can impact markedly on bathing water results given that heavy rain can wash pollutants other than sewage from public sewage discharges into bathing waters from the surrounding rain 'catchment' areas.
SWW has now spent approaching £700 million of the £1 billion earmarked for its 'Clean Sweep' programme with most of the major schemes around the region already delivered or underway.
SWW is now working on the next stage of smaller schemes around the Westcountry coastline.
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For further information please contact Paul Breakwell, Publicity & Information Officer on 01392 443021.
Published: 4th December 2000