Walney water fails to meet standards
Last updated at 16:48, Tuesday, 06 November 2012
TWO Walney beaches have failed to meet minimum water quality standards after recent testing revealed elevated levels of contaminants.
West Shore and Biggar Bank are among six popular swimming spots in the North West to have fallen short of the Environment Agency’s benchmarks.
The EA has blamed the heavy rain over summer for washing pollutants from farms, roads and drains into local water systems and contaminating the beaches.
However, the news was better for other Cumbrian beaches, with Askam, Haverigg and Walney Sandy Gap each reaching
minimum standards and Silecroft the highest.
Environment Agency bathing waters manager Dan Bond said he was disappointed in the results given the progress made to improve water quality over the last 20 years.
“Heavy rainfall washes animals wastes from fields and causes storm sewage overflows to operate,” he said.
“This contributed to six of the North West’s designated bathing waters failing to meet the mandatory standards under the current bathing waters directive.”
Gary Powell, who has operated Northwest Kitesurfing off Walney West Shore since 2005, said he was disappointed to hear water quality had dropped from previous years.
However, he said it was not unexpected given the heavy rains that had fallen across the region in recent months.
“While I haven’t been out as much as normal myself, I haven’t noticed any difference in the quality of the water,” he said.
“I have noticed there’s a lot more algae and weed that’s washed up on the beach, but I put that down to the bigger seas and high winds.”
This year, for the first time, the EA also carried out testing for the potentially dangerous e-coli in bathing waters across the UK.
Tests done on September 3 at West Shore indicated higher-than-desired concentrations of e-coli in the water.
While most strains of e-coli are harmless, some virulent forms can cause gastro and urinary tract infections and meningitis in humans.
However, a spokesman for the EA said there was no need for concern among swimmers as the reading could not be considered accurate when taken in isolation.
The Health Protection Agency advises that anyone using the UK’s beaches refrain from swallowing the water and after swimming wash hands with soap and water before eating.
First published at 16:42, Tuesday, 06 November 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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