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Island beaches lose their bathing status

SEVEN Island beaches have lost their ‘recommended’ status for bathing in the latest Good Beach Guide — just two weeks after the Isle of Wight was placed joint top in Britain for its number of quality beaches.
Of the 16 Island beaches tested, Gurnard, Ryde West, Shanklin, Totland Bay, Seagrove, St Helens and Whitecliff Bay all slipped off the list.
However, all seven achieved a basic pass and Southern Water and the Isle of Wight Council said every beach met European standards for bathing water quality.
The bathing water tests, carried out between May and September last year, coincided with the seventh wettest British summer on record.
With so much heavy rain, John Spence, Southern Water’s head of wastewater and environmental strategy, said run-off from roads and farmland or storm overflows entering the sea could have affected standards.
“We are pleased that, despite the rain, beaches on the Island again met the European standards. This success compares with just 41 per cent of beaches meeting the same standard in 1988, when South Water began a multi-million pound programme of work to help,” he said.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) published its Good Beach Guide for 2009, after testing 777 UK beaches.
Across Britain, recommended beaches fell by almost a sixth — the biggest annual fall in the guide’s 22-year history.
Thomas Bell, MCS coastal pollution officer, said: “These results reflect last summer’s heavy rain, which swept waterborne pollutants like raw sewage, petro-chemicals and farm waste into rivers and the sea.”
The society believes specific counter pollution measures are required now, including new farming practices, investment in sustainable urban drainage systems, a significant expansion of the sewer system, to handle large volumes of storm water, and end-of-pipe monitoring on combined sewer overflows.

• The Isle of Wight recently received 14 awards in the Keep Britain Tidy Blue Flags and Quality Coast Awards (QCA) — putting it joint top alongside Torbay, Devon.
• Ventnor and Sandown beaches have both been awarded prestigious blue flags, while 12 beaches have been given QCAs.
• QCA criteria includes good access, top facilities, such as lifeguard provision, being litter free and having clean bathing water. Similar criteria is also required for blue flag status, although the water quality test is more stringent.
• MCS Recommended is the only scheme focusing entirely on water quality standards and risk of sewage pollution.

Reporter: martinn@iwcpmail.co.uk

Read the original article from TheIsle of Wight County Press Online here

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