Beach at risk of failing water quality tests

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 May 2015

Budleigh Salterton beach.

Budleigh Salterton beach.

Archant

Budleigh Salterton beach is still at risk of failing new water quality tests, the Environment Agency has warned.

The beach is on a list of 25 across England which, the agency says, could fail tougher measures imposed this year by the European Union.

The warning comes in the same week as a foul-smelling substance was found in the Otter Estuary, raising further fears about pollution coming down the river.

But experts have said this was algae, not pollution, and reiterated that much work had been done to improve the water at Budleigh beach, which it was hoped would in the end pass the new tests.

Budleigh beach was previously named last year on a list of 40 beaches at risk.

Ladram Bay, which last year was also named, has not been included on the updated list, but Budleigh is still there.

The Environment Agency says the new European standards will be twice as tough to pass as before, and that, from 2016, local councils will have to display signs at all bathing waters showing if the new measures have been passed and whether or not swimming is advised.

Budleigh town and district councillor Tom Wright, who has been closely involved with efforts to improve water quality at the beach, said: “That list is from data that’s a couple of years old now. It came as no surprise to us. Last year, our beach passed, and if that trend continues we will be safe.

“That’s not to say we are complacent. The Environment Agency did a great deal of good work in investigating all the water courses that feed our beach and, by that, they were able to identify the sources of pollution.”

Otter Valley Association chairman Roger Saunders said: “Obviously, we are concerned there’s a risk of Budleigh failing water quality tests, as it would have a huge impact on Budleigh commercially, on holidaymakers and tourists, if it’s a failing beach.

“We have concerns, and don’t think anybody should be complacent that it’s going to be an easy fix.

“The impact on Budleigh could be huge.”

The incident at the weekend, concerning a substance in the river between Lime Kiln and Otter Head, was reported by photographer Mo Bowman.

This was investigated by the Environment Agency, and a spokesman said: “We attended the Otter Estuary as soon as we were able. Unfortunately, what was photographed was no longer there – but from the photographs we strongly believe it was algae.

“This coincides with the first cut of silage further up the catchment and the enriched water could have caused an algal bloom.

“We have carried out a walkover of the catchment and there is no trace of any sewage-related debris.”

The spokesman added that any signs of pollution can be reported on 0800 807060.

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