Beaches excluded from guide book

PUBLISHED: 09:34 14 May 2012

The River Otter at St Saviour's Bridge in Ottery begins to burst its banks after the recent heavy rainfall. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 8509-18-12AW

The River Otter at St Saviour's Bridge in Ottery begins to burst its banks after the recent heavy rainfall. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 8509-18-12AW

Archant

A vital water drainage passage in the Lime Kiln car park, which helps alleviate flooding of the cricket club and low-lying farmland, may have led to Budleigh Salterton beach being excluded from a good beach guide.

Budleigh Salterton and Ladram Bay beaches, for different reasons, have been excluded from The Marine Conservation Society’s guide of the top 516 beaches around the UK because bacteria levels in the water were found to be too high.

And now Budleigh Salterton beach is one of 20 new beaches in the South West with a live feed connected to a website, so it is easier for bathers to check the quality of the water.

Every summer, water quality is assessed by the Environment Agency (EA) at popular beaches which have been designated as bathing waters under the European Bathing Water Directive.

This data is used to publish the guide, but neither Ladram Bay nor Budleigh Salterton beach is on that list.

The EA counts the number of certain types of bacteria, which in turn reveals the amount of pollution, attributed mainly from sewage or livestock waste.

While both beaches meet the legal minimum ‘mandatory’ standard for clean water, they do not make the stricter UK guideline standard.

Water from the Ladram Bay beach was tested 20 times on consecutive weeks between May 4, 2011, and September 19, 2011, and the water was found to be of the lower standard on five occasions.

The reason given by the EA was that ‘a small stream that flows across the beach is known to cause reduced water quality, particularly during rainfall.’

The same tests were carried out at Budleigh Salterton beach and fared slightly better with the water found to be of the lower standard on four occasions.

The reason given was because of a water drainage passage known as the eastern outfall: “There is a storm overflow at Otterton Ledge (Lime Kiln) that can lead to a drop in water quality.”

South West Water’s bathing water quality website BeachLive has now added Budleigh Salterton Beach to its information.

‘Blue flags’ are posted on the BeachLive website when there is no risk to water from sewerage.

On rare occasions when significant overflows do happen – normally during or after heavy rain – ‘amber’ updates are posted on the site and beach operators are notified by texts.

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