Bigger and better BeachLive
South West Water's award-winning bathing water quality website BeachLive (www.beachlive.co.uk) is doubling in size for summer 2012 with 20 new beaches in Devon and Cornwall and more special features.
From Friday 4 May, the website will feature 41 Blue Flag and popular beaches across the region, with live water quality updates from 35 of these. More beaches are expected to be added during the summer season.
Launched last year in partnership with Surfers Against Sewage, the Environment Agency, tourism leaders and beach managers, this year BeachLive will offer users free text message alerts from their five favourite beaches.
'Blue flags' are posted on the BeachLive website when there is no risk to water quality from the operation of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the sewerage system. On rare occasions when significant overflows do happen - normally during or after heavy rain - 'amber' updates are posted on the site and beach operators are notified by email or SMS texts.
'Amber flags' are removed when there have been no further significant overflows over the next 12 hours. These 'significance' triggers are based on Environment Agency data and have been agreed by all partners. This year a new 'red flag' has been introduced to indicate when a beach has been closed due to other circumstances such as particularly dangerous currents or an oil spill.
The site also features surf, tide and weather forecasts plus information about beach facilities, bathing water quality awards and how the public can do their bit to avoid pollution through responsible waste disposal.
Stephen Bird, South West Water's Operations Director, said: "Our £2 billion Clean Sweep investment has helped transform bathing water quality over the last 20 years. BeachLive is about demonstrating the value of that investment on a daily basis by giving beach users information they can use to make an informed decision on whether to swim or surf.
"Last year's trial website received nearly 17,000 page views during the bathing water season and we had lots of positive feedback from users. Of the similar trials that ran last year, we monitored the most beaches with the fastest updating system. People seemed to really appreciate the immediacy of the service.
"This year we've added more beaches, extra features and a free text message alert service which we will add even more value for our customers."
Vicky Garner, Chairman of the South West Bathing Water Liaison Group, which promotes beach and water cleanliness, said: "As a mother with three young children, it's great to be able to check BeachLive before I head to the beach. The UK and in particular the South West has transformed the quality of its bathing water over the last two decades and I'm glad to see the region is again at the European cutting edge when it comes to offering live water quality updates."
Campaign Director of Surfers Against Sewage Andy Cummins said: "We welcome South West Water's continued commitment to informing the public about water quality at 35 of their beaches across the south west.
"It's superb to see the company adopt SAS's successful Sewage Alert Service model for their award winning Beach Live project. This year SAS's Sewage Alert Service will have the capacity to warn water users of a sewage spill at approximately 200 beaches around the UK."
Notes to editors
The 20 new beaches with live feeds for 2012 are:
- Babbacombe - Torbay
- Beacon Cove - Torbay
- Bude Crooklets - Cornwall
- Budleigh Salterton - East Devon
- Coryton Cove, Dawlish - Teignbridge
- Dawlish Town - Teignbridge
- Exmouth - East Devon
- Fistral, Newquay - Cornwall
- Goodrington - Torbay
- Mawgan Porth - Cornwall
- Par - Cornwall
- Perran Sands - Cornwall
- Porth, Newquay - Cornwall
- Seaton - Cornwall
- Slapton Sands, Torcross (from 1 June)
- Rock - Cornwall
- Holcombe, Teignmouth - Teignbridge
- Teignmouth Town - Teignbridge
- Torre Abbey - Torbay
- Trevaunance Cove - Cornwall
The other 16 beaches with live information feeds featured on BeachLive from 2011 are:
- Breakwater - Torbay (BF)
- Challaborough - South Hams (BF)
- Gyllyngvase - Cornwall (BF)
- Meadfoot - Torbay (BF)
- Paignton Sands - Torbay (BF)
- Preston Sands (Paignton) - Torbay (BF)
- Polzeath - Cornwall (BF)
- Porthminster - Cornwall (BF)
- Porthtowan - Cornwall (BF)
- Salcombe South Sands - South Hams (BF)
- Westward Ho! - Torridge (BF)
- Woolacombe Village - North Devon (BF)
- The Towans (Godrevy) - Cornwall
- Porthleven (West) - Cornwall
- Crantock - Cornwall
- Bude (Summerleaze) - Cornwall
(BF denotes Blue Flag in 2011)
A further six popular beaches, which do not have South West Water assets, are also featured on the website:
- Blackpool Sands - South Hams (BF)
- Broadsands - Torbay (BF)
- Dawlish Warren - Teignbridge (BF)
- Oddicombe - Torbay (BF)
- Porthmeor - Cornwall (BF)
- Hollicombe, Torbay
- The website will offer warnings based on monitoring data from South West Water's sewerage network until the end of the summer bathing season in September.
- However there are other factors which can affect water quality at beaches including animal fouling, agricultural and highway run-off and wrongly connected pipes in properties taking sewage direct into rivers and streams
- Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) are designed to protect homes, gardens, roads and open spaces from sewage flooding. During times of heavy rainfall, when sewers and pumping stations can be overwhelmed with surface water, CSOs enable excess flows to be screened and discharged
- CSOs have to comply with strict European legislation and are regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) through discharge consents which prescribe the conditions under which they can operate
- The significance triggers which prompt notification of an overflow at 35 bathing waters are based on the Environment Agency's assessments of significant flow and have been agreed with key partners including Surfers Against Sewage. They may differ at each bathing water due to the position, length and diameter of the CSOs and other local factors
- At a few locations, where an overflow would have to last for many hours to reach the significance trigger, early advice notices will be issued after JUST one hour of an overflow so beach operators are made aware. The beach will be still listed as 'blue' and will only turn 'amber' if the overflow reaches the significance trigger. Again, they will return to 'blue' when there have been no further significant overflows in the following 12 hours
- This year, Beach Live won the prestigious Water Industry Achievement Award for Community Project of the Year.
Published: 4 May 2012
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