Water quality results for our coastline

Embleton. Picture by 'Jean Lawrence
Embleton. Picture by 'Jean Lawrence

Seventeen beaches in Northumberland and North Tyneside have an excellent or good water quality status, it was announced by Defra today.

Across the North East, 19 bathing waters have met the excellent standard, 11 are classified as good, three as sufficient and one is poor.

Bamburgh Beach. PIcture by Helen Cowans

Bamburgh Beach. PIcture by Helen Cowans

Those which have achieved the excellent standard are Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses North, Beadnell, Low Newton, Warkworth, Amble Links, Druridge Bay North, Druridge Bay South, Newbiggin North, Newbiggin South, Blyth South, Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Long Sands North, Tynemouth Long Sands South, Tynemouth King Edwards Bay, South Shields, Seaburn (Whitburn North), Roker (Whitburn South) and Seaton Carew (North Gare).

Those that have achieved the good standard are Seaton Sluice, Tynemouth Cullercoats, Marsden, Crimdon, Seaton Carew (Centre), Redcar Coatham, Redcar Lifeboat Station, Redcar Granville, Redcar Stray, Marske Sands and Saltburn.

Seaham Hall, Seaham and Seaton Carew (North) are classified as sufficient and Spittal is the only bathing water to be classified as poor.

Bathing water quality at Spittal is impacted by many sources, including pollution from the River Tweed. Further investigation work is to be carried out to understand the cost of required work to improve the water quality status to sufficient.

Northumbrian Water’s wastewater director, Richard Warneford, said: “Our £1billion of investment over the last two decades is reflected in today’s results, which are in stark contrast to those in 2000, when only four of the bathing waters in the North East achieved the old guideline standard.

“Looking after the environment is at the heart of what we do. We are extremely proud of the contribution we have made to protect and improve our region’s stunning coastline through both investment and partnership working and we appreciate the significant impact that beaches have on tourism, the economy and the leisure industry. Partnership working is particularly important as diffuse pollution, which includes run off from roads and agricultural land, can also have a negative impact on bathing water quality.

“It is worth bearing in mind that the bathing water results in 2012, when our region experienced one of the wettest years in 100 years, are reflected in this year’s results. We are certainly not complacent and have already carried out work, or have plans in place, to improve the bathing water quality at locations that have achieved either a sufficient or poor status this year.”

Northumbrian Water is encouraging their customers to also help to look after the region’s bathing waters by only flushing toilet paper, pee and poo down the loo and by not putting grease and fat down drains. This will help to prevent blockages and potential pollution.

The method of assessing bathing water quality has changed from this year. Until now 20 samples taken by the Environment Agency in any current year have been used to establish if bathing waters meet either the mandatory standard or the stricter guideline standard.

From this year, compliance is based on the current and previous three years of sample data (80 samples) and is assessed against four new and stricter classifications of poor (failure to meet minimum requirement), sufficient, good and excellent. These samples are taken by the Environment Agency between May and September each year.