Published: June 4, 2014
New notices in Burnham will warn sea swimmers of water quality dips

New signs are being introduced in Burnham-On-Sea, Berrow and Brean to warn swimmers when sea water quality is unfit for swimming or paddling.

The Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council are working together to provide better information on when pollution may pose a risk to bathers.

The notices, like the one pictured here, will only be put up for short periods of time when there is a risk, such as after heavy rain.

They will be on display at the top of Burnham's jetty and the entrances to the beach car parks in Berrow and Brean.

The initiative could help Burnham to address the strict new EU water guidelines coming into affect from next year where beaches that fail the tougher tests will have signs erected informing people that swimming is not advised.

Paul Gainey from the Environment Agency told this week: "Just as we forecast flood risk and encourage people to take appropriate action, the Environment Agency also forecasts increases in the risk of pollution which can have a short-term impact on bathing waters."

"In these cases it is for local authorities to respond, and Sedgemoor District Council is one of several to sign up to this scheme in which they put up temporary beach signs advising people of the increased risk of poor quality. This tends to happen after heavy rainfall."

He added: "If a sign is displayed when the Environment Agency comes to test the water, and if certain other conditions are also satisfied, the results of that week’s test could be discounted from the overall score for the year."

"This ensures that at beaches where water quality is normally good, the long term classifications will reflect this, tourism is encouraged and the local economy is protected."

"It also ensures that when bathing water is likely to have temporarily deteriorated, people are informed of the short term risks."

He added that the Environment Agency tests sea water quality in England once a week during the bathing water season.

The tests are carried out to monitor the quality so that action can be taken to protect the quality and to inform the public before they choose where to bathe.

Last week, we reported here how Burnham's MP Tessa Munt has stepped in to try and find a solution for the issue in Burnham amid concern that the EU rules could hit the local tourist trade.

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