Bad weather affects beach quality

BEACHES at Sandsend and Staithes have failed to meet mandatory tests on the quality of the water.

The Environment Agency ran tests throughout the peak summer season at 54 locations across the borough and the results were announced this week by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Sandsend and Staithes were just two of seven which failed the test but the Environment Agency said the poor results could have been down to the weather.

A spokesperson said: “Overall, the results showed a drop in water quality in comparison to last year, when all bathing waters in the region met the required standard. This year’s poor results were caused by exceptionally high levels of rainfall, which washed pollution from cities and rural areas into rivers and streams.”

Robin Hood’s Bay met the mandatory test and the beaches at Whitby and Runswick Bay met the higher test.

Despite the poor results the long term trend is that bathing water quality is improving.

Last year all the bathing waters in the region met the required standard so there has been a slight drop in quality this year.

Experts say the results highlight the need to do more to address pollution caused by bacteria.

Dominic Shepherd, Regional Environmental Planning Manager at the Environment Agency, said bathing water quality was generally good in Yorkshire and that samples had been affected by the exceptionally heavy rainfall.

He added they were working with water companies and local authorities to improve sewerage and drainage infrastructure, and with farmers to lessen the impact caused by farmland drainage.

Lord Chris Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, said: “Bathing water quality has improved significantly over the past two decades, but this year heavy rainfall over the summer has affected results.

“During intense rainfall, pollution from farmland, roads, and drains is washed into rivers and coastal areas.”

He added it emphasised that more still needs to be done to improve the water and meet more stringent water quality tests which will be introduced in 2015.