Staithes cleans up

For only the sixth time in over 20 years the water quality at Staithes beach has met the minimum standards set by the Environment Agency.

To achieve the ‘mandatory’ status 19 out of the 20 water samples taken from the harbour met the set criteria during tests carried out throughout the bathing season - 15 May to 30 September.

The tests measure the levels of total coliform and faecal coliform - the kinds of bacteria which indicate faecal contamination from warm-blooded animals.

Pete Stevenson, a team leader from the Environment Agency said: “It met the criteria for the mandatory standard this year. It failed last year. I think it is the sixth time it has met the standard in 24 years.”

He told the Gazette it was difficult to pin-point the exact reason for the improvement as there are a number of possible factors.

The Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water have been carrying out a number of projects ranging from simple things like checking gutters and drains are intact to working with local farms and businesses on pollution prevention measures.

There are also more complex projects in the pipeline as previously reported in the Gazette such as producing computer models of the movement of the water to see if the harbour wall should be opened up to encourage better water flow.

Mr Stevenson added: “Part of the reason for improvement is probably that it has been drier than average this year. Particularly at the beginning of the season it was glorious, there was not much run off.

“The sewerage system is designed to have over flows but if it is not going off it is not putting bacteria into the environment.

“We are pleased about Staithes but we couldn’t say if everything stays the same it would meet it again next year.

“We need to keep that work going throughout this winter and next year to continue the improvements.”

Other work the two organisations have been doing is looking at the sewerage arrangements for the homes in Hinderwell and Staithes and connecting caravan sites to the main network - a move which has had a beneficial effect in Robin Hood’s Bay.

The village met the guideline standard which forms part of a stricter test as did Whitby, Runswick Bay and Sandsend.

Mr Stevenson added: “Whitby is really, really good bathing water. It has consistently met the guidelined and it is predicted to meet the excellent standard when that comes in in 2015.”