Update on action to improve the bathing water quality at Cullercoats

As the bathing water season gets under way, a multi-agency partnership is continuing to investigate why bathing water quality at a North Tyneside beach is not meeting strict standards.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 11:34 am
Work is continuing to identify the causes of the localised deterioration of bathing water quality at Cullercoats beach, pictured.

Since the end of the 2017, bathing water season, the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water and North Tyneside Council have been working together to identify the causes of the localised deterioration of bathing water quality at Cullercoats.

Cullercoats beach itself remains a safe and popular destination and local businesses will continue to offer activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, canoeing and sailing.

But members of the public are advised not to bathe until the investigations are complete and the bathing water quality returns to Sufficient, with advisory signage set to be displayed around the beach in mid-May.

Cullercoats was given a Poor rating in the latest classifications last November.

More than 500 hours and tens of thousands of pounds have been spent to try and find solutions and a range of actions has been taken to understand and resolve complex issues on privately-owned sites and public spaces, as well as in the Northumbrian Water network.

They include DNA analysis to identify sources of pollution, 10 misconnected pipes repaired, 3,000m of pipe inspected with cameras, 150m of pipe coated with a special lining to prevent leaks, 80 highways gullies checked for misconnections and pipework failures, six soakways/gullies sealed to prevent foul water entering the ground and more than 200 water samples taken.

Richard Warneford, Northumbrian Water’s wastewater director, said: “Together, we have 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.

“It’s important to note, however, that bathing water classification is based upon samples taken across four years.

“Therefore, while the majority of these indicate healthy conditions at Cullercoats, a number of historical spikes will continue to affect the overall categorisation for some time.

“On a positive note, 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.”

Phil Scott, head of environment, housing and leisure at North Tyneside Council, said: “Our investigations will continue until the water quality matches our aspirations and we would like to thank members of the public for their patience as that work continues.”

Fiona Morris, environment manager at the Environment Agency in the North East, said: “We recognise this drop in standards is concerning, but we are committed to understanding the issues and are working with North Tyneside Council and Northumbrian Water to resolve them.”