Bubbling away with plans to combat water pollution at Staithes

DESPITE the levels of bacteria found in Staithes Harbour, the Environment Agency says it is not badly polluted.

According to the organisation it is the fact that the bathing water is confined within the harbour that makes it more polluted even though the levels of bacteria found are comparable to other coastal locations.

The feedback was given to Scarborough Borough councillor Nick Harvey (Green Party) who requested more information about Staithes Beach following a meeting last month of SBC’s environment and economy scrutiny meeting.

Coun Harvey said: “It is reassuring to know that it is not the volume of pollution apparently causing the problem but the nature of Staithes Beach. It is a difficult situation to resolve and all parties are working hard to address the problem.”

At the moment the Environment Agency is producing a computer model of the movement of water at Staithes and the data will determine the next course of action.

One possible solution being looked at is allowing more water into the harbour but Peter Stevenson from the Environment Agency told Coun Harvey there were other factors to be taken into consideration.

He said: “This model should be complete by July 2012. Once this is done, and depending on what it tells us, we may then look at options to do this whilst bearing in mind the need for appropriate coastal defences and the other uses of the harbour structure.”

In the meantime, the results of tests are being awaited which will hopefully give more idea of the proportion of bacteria which is coming from humans and animals.

A separate study is also due to report back in March on how the operations of Yorkshire Water and the sewerage system in Staithes and Hinderwell may be impacting on the quality of the bathing water.

But the other sources of pollution that have been identified are cross connections from private properties where foul drainage is accidentally going to the surface water system; drainage from industrial sites; private sewerage systems and agricultural inputs.

Mr Stevenson added: “These are generally fairly straight forward issues to address. Evidence shows that there are still a number of small point source issues which will need to be addressed. “We have made contact with both estates in the catchment so that we can work with them as well as their tenants where improvements are required.

“Over the next few months it is our intention to visit every holding. We will look to work with farmers and to point them to people from whom they can get help, either advice or grants, such as the Catchment Sensitive Farming Initiative or the National Park.

In some cases, he added, private systems could be connected to the public sewer.