Beaches in the Burnham-On-Sea area will not receive Blue Flag awards this year because the water quality is not up to standard, the Environment Agency has said this week.
Tests were carried out on sea water at various locations along our coastline between May and September, including Burnham-On-Sea jetty and Berrow, north of Unity Farm.
Despite passing the mandatory tests, the beaches will not qualify for Blue Flag awards.
The award is only given to beaches meeting the guideline standards plus one extra test, for traces of faecal streptococci, commonly known as bacteria from human and animal waste.
Environment Agency officials blame the poor bathing water quality on the wet summer, which increased storm overflows from sewers, diffuse pollution and run-off from farmland and urban areas.
This resulted in increased pollutants entering rivers and streams and flowing into some bathing waters.
Richard Cresswell, Regional Director at the Environment Agency, told “There is a direct link between rainfall and bathing water quality.”
“We saw an extraordinary amount of rainfall during the summer and this caused an increase in the amount of pollution in some of the region’s bathing waters because of diffuse run-off, both from farmland and towns. Pollution is caused by, or attributable to, a number of sources.”
“These include sewage from combined sewage overflows, which occurs when heavy or persistent rainfall can lead to the capacity of the sewage system being exceeded.
“There is also run-off from urban areas that is polluted with dog faeces or bird droppings and run-off from farms and fields carrying farm animal faeces.”
“Our monitoring of bathing water quality identifies where improvements are required and helps in our understanding of the causes of failure,” Mr Cresswell added.
“We will continue to work closely with the water companies, local authorities, the agricultural community and others involved in the water environment to find solutions where bathing waters have failed to meet the required standards.”
Water quality standards are set out in the Bathing Waters Directive, which requires the regular monitoring of water at popular bathing beaches around the coast.