UK beaches are failing to meet the minimum requirements for water quality pollution, sparking an urgency for water companies to monitor sewer overflows.
The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) annual Good Beach Guide found that 42 beaches failed to meet the minimum European standards for bathing water quality in 2012, 17 more than the previous year.
Only 403 of the 754 beaches tested in 2012 met the requirements for excellent water quality which is 113 less than in 2011.
The rise was attributed to the unusually wet summer in 2012, with flooding across many parts of the country leading to an increase in the amount of bacteria and viruses in bathing water.
MCS said the results show that its calls for improved monitoring of combined sewer overflows and action to reduce pollution from farms and populated areas is needed urgently.
“We have recommended fewer beaches in every English region and in Wales and Scotland. In England, the north west and south west were hit particularly hard, with the fewest number of recommended beaches for at least a decade. Action must be taken now. With stricter bathing water standards from 2015 and summers that appear to be getting wetter, the iconic image of people bathing off golden beaches could be at serious risk,” said Rachel Wyatt, coastal pollution officer, MCS.
“There is no simple solution to sewage and animal waste reaching our seas. However if the water industry, communities and local authorities recognise that there is a problem and begin to work together to find answers then that would be a significant start.”
Water companies can provide data to local authorities about when and for how long their combined sewer overflows spill into the rivers and the seas.