“It’s great news that we are able to recommend more beaches than ever for excellent water quality and it shows just how good British beaches can be,” says Rachel Wyatt. “The main challenge now is maintaining these standards, whatever the weather.
Most people don’t realise what a big impact the weather can have on bathing water quality, but this has really been highlighted in the last few years. 2008, 2009 and 2012 were, according to the Met Office, amongst the wettest summers on record since 1910, and fewer UK bathing waters met minimum and higher water quality standards because of increased pollution running off rural and urban areas and overloaded sewers.”
By the end of the 2015 bathing season, all designated bathing waters must meet the new minimum ‘Sufficient’ standard due to the revised EU Bathing Water Directive. This will be around twice as stringent as the current minimum standard and means that some beaches will need to do more to make the grade in the future which could include reducing pollution from sewage discharges, agricultural run-off and urban diffuse pollution, fixing mis-connected sewers and putting in place more steps to help dog owners clean up after their pets.
Beaches which don’t meet the ‘Sufficient’ standard at the end of 2015 will have to display signs warning against bathing in the sea from the start of the bathing season in 2016.
This year over 160 English and Welsh beaches featured at www.goodbeachguide.co.uk will be linked to the Environment Agency’s daily pollution forecast which will indicate when there may be an increased risk of pollution due to heavy rainfall. MCS also hopes to be able to link to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s daily prediction system later in the year.