Beach test failed due to rain
PUBLISHED: 13:02 21 November 2012
Budleigh Salterton beach has failed the most basic test for bathing water, according to a new report.
According to Environment Agency (EA) data, the beach was one of eight in Devon to fail mandatory compliance under European rules.
The agency has blamed ‘exceptionally heavy rainfall’ which resulted in more pollution.
It is the first time that the beach has failed the test for 18 years, since 1994.
EA officers tested the water on a weekly basis from May 2 to September 18, and the last three tests, in September showed water standards past the ‘higher’ European water standard.
Of the 20 tests in August, two failed, in what was the wettest August since records began.
Across the South West, 177 beaches passed the minimum European standard with 16 fails.
And 117 beaches passed the tougher ‘guideline’ tests with 76 failing.
East Devon District Council’s beach and foreshore member champion Councillor Tom Wright said: “It follows one of the wettest summers on record and run-off from farm land has affected the results.
“I would stress that the runoff was agricultural and not from sewage.”
South West EA director Richard Cresswell said: “During intense rainfall, pollution from farmland, roads, and drains was washed into water courses that finally end up in the sea.
“Water companies also operate combined sewage overflows to prevent sewage from backing up and flooding people’s homes.”
The Health Protection Agency said local authorities had to ensure there were prominent signs on any designated bathing beaches to inform the public.
It said such signs would contain safety messages and information about bathing, and visitors should observe any advice they gave.
Nationally the figures show that 93 per cent of England’s bathing waters met the minimum European water quality criteria.