The agency tested the quality of water off the region’s beaches from Saltburn in the south to Spittal in the north during the 2021 bathing season.
The results, released today, Wednesday, January 19, show that water quality at 32 of the 34 beaches tested was granted an ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ rating last year, with one other achieving the minimum ‘Sufficient’ rating.
Bathing waters are monitored for sources of pollution known to be a risk to swimmers’ health, with up to 20 samples taken from each site during the season. Each sample is tested for bacteria, specifically E coli and intestinal enterococci.
The 25 North East bathing waters classified as ‘Excellent’ are: Spittal, Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses North, Beadnell, Low Newton, Warkworth, Amble Links, Druridge Bay North, Druridge Bay South, Newbiggen North, Blyth South Beach, Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Long Sands North, Tynemouth Long Sands South, Tynemouth King Edwards Bay, South Shields, Seaburn, Roker, Seaham Beach, Seaton Carew Centre, Seaton Carew North Gare, Redcar Coatham, Redcar Stray and Saltburn.
Marsden in South Tyneside was rated as ‘Sufficient’ and only Tynemouth Cullercoats as ‘Poor’. The remainder were ‘Good’.
The agency is working with Northumbrian Water, North Tyneside Council and other organisations to resolve the issues affecting the sea off Cullercoats and has carried out extra tests to see if groundwater run-off is causing the problems.
Environment Agency area environment manager for the North East Rachael Caldwell said everyone had a part to play in protecting the quality of the region’s water: “We have fantastic bathing waters in the North East and we’re working hard to protect and improve them,” she said.
“The Environment Agency has established a strong partnership approach to improving bathing water quality, because there isn’t usually just one solution. We need to consider how different urban, industrial and rural impacts work together and we often have to work a good distance away from a bathing water to improve things.
“There’s a role for us all as individuals too, to be mindful of what we flush and what we leave on the beach.”