Test results have revealed that bathing water at Spittal beach failed to meet the mandatory standards this year.
The water quality results, compiled from tests carried out by the Environment Agency throughout the bathing season, were announced today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at the Cleaner Seas Forum.
Tests on bathing waters in Yorkshire and the North East have revealed that 87 per cent of designated bathing waters met the required standard of quality this year.
But Spittal was one of seven locations which failed the mandatory standard. No bathing waters in the region failed the standard last year.
Some 47 out of 54 bathing waters in the region met the mandatory requirement of the European Bathing Water Directive. And 25 of these met the higher level of ‘guideline’ compliance, including Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses North and Beadnell.
Overall, though, the results showed a drop in water quality in comparison to last year, when all bathing waters in the region met the required standard. This year’s poor results were caused by exceptionally high levels of rainfall, which washed pollution from cities and rural areas into rivers and streams.
However, the long-term trend shows that bathing water quality is improving. Across England and Wales, some 516 bathing waters were monitored during the season. Of these, 94 per cent reached the mandatory standard. Back in 1990, the pass rate was just 78 per cent.
Dominic Shepherd, regional environmental planning manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Generally speaking, bathing water quality is very good in Yorkshire and the North East, and the long-term trend is that quality is improving. During 2011 we saw 100 per cent in the region and we expect this kind of high quality to continue under the normal range of weather conditions. It is also worth remembering that, while our samples were affected on some occasions by the exceptionally heavy rainfall, quality usually increases again within a short period after the heavy rainfall has passed.
“The results this year do highlight the need for more action to be taken to reduce all sources of bacterial pollution. The Environment Agency is working with water companies and local authorities to improve sewerage and drainage infrastructure, and with farmers to lessen the impact caused by farmland drainage.
“It is also crucial that the public get involved by reporting pollution incidents, becoming involved in beach care campaigns, taking care of what they dispose of down the drains to prevent blockages, and ensuring their properties are properly connected to the sewerage and drainage system.”