Published: April 21, 2012
Environment Agency puts Burnham's sea water quality in the spotlight

The failure of Burnham-On-Sea, Brean and Berrow's sea water to meet strict new European water quality standards will be in the spotlight when the Environment Agency holds a special event in the town next month.

Last year, reported here how Burnham was one of only 11 out of 191 beaches in the South West that failed to meet the new EU standard.

In the wake of the findings, the Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council are holding a bathing water workshop aimed at local business owners and landowners on Wednesday May 2nd.

The event is designed to increase awareness of the European-wide revised Bathing Water Directive and outline the new directive's requirements, the timetable for implementation, and explain the potential impact on local businesses.

Two workshops will be held on May 2nd in the Pizey Room at Burnham's Princess Theatre from 2-4pm and 5-7pm when all will be welcome.

Environment Agency spokesman Jim Flory told "We have decided to hold this event because we want to be sure that local business owners and farmers in Burnham-on-Sea are aware of the tighter standards of the new Directive and what that means to them."

"Good quality bathing water is a top priority for the South West because we recognise its vital importance to the regional economy and wellbeing."

"To improve bathing water quality we all need to work on agricultural diffuse pollution, urban diffuse pollution, the effects of wet weather, and sewerage issues. Everyone has a role in reducing pollution and improving bathing water quality."

The revised Bathing Water Directive, introduced in 2006, significantly changes the way bathing waters are managed with quality standards getting tighter.

The directive introduces a new classification scheme - ‘Excellent’ which is approximately twice as stringent as the current guideline standard; ‘Good’ which is similar to the current guideline standard; ‘Sufficient’ which is tighter than the current mandatory standard; and ‘Poor’ which is for non-compliant waters.

The Environment Agency will sample bathing waters on a four-year rolling programme and report against the new classifications for the first time in 2015. All bathing waters need to achieve a classification of at least ‘sufficient’.

The second part of the revised Directive will be a greater emphasis on beach controllers providing public information at the beach. If a site is classified as 'poor' in 2015 measures will have to be taken and advice against bathing posted by the beach controller, which here in Burnham is Sedgemoor District Council.

Pictured: Top, Burnham jetty; centre, the Environment Agency sea water testers at work; above, a busy beach at Brean


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