Cullercoats beach is the only bathing water in the North East to fail European standards in the latest classifications announced today (Thursday) by Defra.
The other 33 North East bathing waters are classed either Excellent or Good, with Cullercoats being rated as Poor. Work involving the Environment Agency, North Tyneside Council and Northumbrian Water is ongoing at the North Tyneside beach to identify and remedy the cause of a localised deterioration in quality.
Compliance is based on the current and previous three years of sample data (a maximum of 80 samples per beach, from 2015 to 2018). The samples are taken by the Environment Agency between May and September each year to assess the bathing waters against the strict regulations.
Northumbrian Water's wastewater director, Richard Warneford, said: "The investigation at Cullercoats has already ruled out a number of potential factors and the Environment Agency has continued testing outside of the normal bathing water season, with results that show some signs for optimism. However, the joint investigations and work will continue until the cause is identified and any work that can be done has been carried out.
"Already, this activity has identified and allowed proactive measures to be taken on a number of third party sites, as well as on parts of our network, that will help protect against potential future problems that could otherwise one day have a detrimental effect on the local environment."
Fiona Morris, environment manager at the Environment Agency in the North East, said: "Our DNA analysis at Cullercoats has identified an impact of predominantly human source. We will be taking further bathing water samples throughout the winter months and we, and our partners, are committed in our efforts to identify the source, to understand how it is getting into the bay and resolve any impacts.
"The North East remains a real success story of drastic improvements over the past 30 years. In 1988, nearly half of our bathing waters failed to meet mandatory standards and now almost all of them are good or excellent. This is great news and we'd encourage people to get out and enjoy our beautiful coastline!
"We work closely with our partners at local authorities and Northumbrian Water to understand what impacts on a particular bathing water's quality and then carry out work to try to improve it; such work has already been done at Cullercoats and is continuing."
The North East beaches achieving an Excellent rating are Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses North, Beadnell, Newbiggin North, Low Newton, Warkworth, Amble Links, Druridge Bay North, Druridge Bay South, Newbiggin South, Blyth South, Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Longsands North, Tynemouth Longsands South, Tynemouth King Edwards Bay, Seaburn (Whitburn North), Roker (Whitburn South), Seaham, Crimdon, Seaton Carew (Centre), Seaton Carew (North Gare), Marske Sands and Saltburn.
Those that have achieved the Good standard are Spittal, Marsden, South Shields, Seaham Hall, Seaton Carew (North), Redcar Coatham, Redcar Lifeboat Station, Redcar Granville and Redcar Stray.
Mr Warneford said: "With more than two decades of investment having gone into improving bathing waters across the North East, it is very pleasing to see that 33 of our region's 34 bathing waters have received Excellent or Good status for the 2019 season.
"We know that work to enhance areas of our network, such as storm water storage facilities, and to divert surface water away from sewers through our Rainwise initiative, will have had a positive impact on these results and we will continue to drive improvements.
"At the turn of the century, the North East had only four bathing waters that achieved the standards in place at the time, so it's plain to see how far we have come and these results are something we and our partners can be proud of - the North East is a fantastic place for a visit to the beach!"
"At Northumbrian Water, we place the environment at the heart of everything we do, so we are very proud of the partnership work and investment that has led to today's results and to making our beaches great places to visit."
Northumbrian Water is encouraging its customers to help to look after the region's bathing waters by only flushing toilet paper, pee and poo down the loo and by not putting grease and fat down drains. This will help to prevent blockages and potential pollution.
• For more detailed information on these bathing water results, log on to https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bathing-waters or https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/bathing-water-quality-statistics
• Each bathing water will have to display a standardised symbol for its classification. The symbols and further information can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-bathing/signs.htm. If a bathing water is designated as poor it must also display the standardised ‘advice against bathing' symbol.
• The Environment Agency publishes information about water quality at England's bathing waters on their online bathing water data explorer, which can be found at www.gov.uk/quality-of-local-bathing-water.