Paddlers and swimmers using Brean and Berrow beaches have this week been told the sea water quality there is of a high standard.

Sedgemoor’s Bathing Water Quality Group has this week warmly welcomed the news that Brean beach has been classed as ‘excellent’ and Berrow as ‘good’ under EU water standards.

The group was delighted that water quality has improved at the beaches but were disappointed to hear that the bathing water quality at Burnham Jetty North Beach has again been classified as ‘poor,’ as we reported here.

A spokesman for the Bathing Water Quality Group said: “We are so pleased that we are very nearly there with the classification at Burnham Beach.”

“A huge amount of work has been done over the season and the results are paying off.”

“Everyone has a part to play in protecting and improving our local bathing waters.”

“If we continue to work together to reduce pollution, we can improve water quality and ensure our bathing waters and coastal communities continue to thrive.”

Wessex Water is among several organisations working to improve the sea water quality further.

“Wessex Water work to enhance the sewerage system in and around Bridgwater, Cannington, Combwich and Highbridge should be one of the final pieces in the jigsaw to improve things together with all the work by the partners and the local community,” said a spokesman.

“Analysis over the past five years has been done to investigate a range of pollution sources. These include household plumbing wrongly connected to surface water systems, overflows from sewerage infrastructure, agricultural inputs, run-off from agricultural land, dog waste, sewage treatment works and septic tanks.”

“There is a huge catchment area related to the sea at Burnham-on-Sea and the bathing beach is located at the mouth of the two large rivers that drain this area. There is not one discharge source causing the problems; there are ‘thousands’ of sources of pollution across a huge catchment area of the Rivers Parrett and Brue.”

“Seven years of concerted effort by members of the group have brought Burnham Jetty North much closer to passing the tougher standards. The group will continue its efforts to tackle the problems across the catchment area. This includes a multi-million pound investment by Wessex Water to help improve the bathing water quality.”

“Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) has been working with farmers to help reduce tackle bacteria loads from agricultural sources. CSF helped secure in excess of £9 million or Rural Development Grant towards funding improvements on farms in the wider catchment. This has been match funded by farmers equivalent to a total spend in excess of £18 million locally.”

The organisations which make up the group are:- Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Environment Agency; Internal Drainage Boards; James Heappey MP; National Farmers Union; National Health Service; Natural England; Sedgemoor District Council; Surfers against Sewerage; Tourism sector and Wessex Water

The Environment Agency monitors water quality throughout the summer to ensure people can make informed choices about when and where to bathe, swim and paddle. The classification categories of water quality are ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘poor’. The classifications are based on the level of bacteria in the water as monitored by the Environment Agency between May and September. For more information, click here.