From 2015 the revised Bathing Water Directive sets new standards that are approximately twice as stringent as the current ones, which result in the pass or fail awards of bathing water beaches around the country, and inclusion or not in the Good Beach Guide.
Together, we can Turn the Tide!
As a series of coastal resorts, the future of the Fylde Coast is inextricably linked with the sea, and everyone can play their own part in making sure that our bathing waters pass these new, more stringent tests – without even leaving the house.
Turning Tides saw the major contributors to the solution of cleaner bathing waters come together to make sure that everyone knows how they can play their part in achieving passes for our bathing waters in 2015.
In 1988, 82% of beaches failed bathing water tests and in 2011 82% passed. The weather and heavy bursts of rainfall rainfall plays a significant part in the problem, as do misconnected drains, diffuse pollution from agriculture, and diffuse pollution from land.
The quality of our bathing waters has improved significantly in the last twenty years after millions of pounds of investment, but the changes bring new challenges for the future, and as Jim Hancock, former Political Editor for BBC North West said in opening the conference ‘Unlike King Canute we have to be successful at turning tides’.
Tourism is worth billions to the UK and is as vital to Blackpool as it is to the national economy. The consequence of not meeting these new standards will be that signs are erected advising people not to go into the sea – which would have a huge effect on people’s perception of the area and negatively influence the decision of many visiting tourists. The conference attracted delegates from the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Keep Britain Tidy, Councils, Merlin, the Pleasure Beach and community groups, to hear how together we can all play a part in making sure that we can maintain the economic benefits that tourism brings to the Fylde Coast.
Steve Moore, North West Director of the Environment Agency, Steve Mogford the CEO of United Utilities, Dr Robert Keirle Pollution Programme Manager from the Marine Conservation Society and Robert Sheasby, the North West Director of the NFU all spoke about what their own organisationa and sectors are doing towards compliance with the new bathing water directive.
Caitlin Duffy and Andrew Salt stole the show with a heartfelt presentation about their view of the beach and sea, from the perspective of young students at St Mary’s Catholic College in Blackpool.
Group discussion formed a list of points for the main players to take away to follow up, and a new Turning Tides Strategic Partnership was brought together, from the very senior people in each of the key organisations – people who have the authority to be able to make changes and decisions and steer them through to ensure a successful outcome.
So how can you Turn the Tide in your house?
It’s quite simple really, in the same way that you play your part by recycling and separating your rubbish, all you need to do is to be thoughtful about what goes down your drains.
* Don’t put wipes and sanitary products down your toilet and use it like a bin – they cause blockages and in storm conditions cause the sewers to overflow.
* Don’t put fats and oils down your sink – they also cause the drains and sewers to block.
* Check your own drains to make sure that sewage pipes aren’t connected to surface water pipes. Surface water is often returned to source without treatment and if they are wrongly connected raw sewage can escape with it.
* Be responsible in the environment. Always pick up after your dog, don’t drop litter, don’t leave anything at the beach or near a river other than your footprints.
If you do want to play a more active part, why don’t you go down to your beach or local river estuary? Start by taking a look around, to see what kind of rubbish and litter is there, and then you’ll see why your own actions are important and what the alternative is. Then why don’t you join a local group who care for your local environment?
Turning Tides – together we can achieve better bathing water for the north west