Tuesday, 28 April 2009

BROADSTAIRS TO GET NEW WATER QUALITY TESTS

Thanet district Council press release

A new way of predicting water quality at Viking Bay is set to be tried out this summer, as part of a national trial project.

In 2015, a new EU water directive will come into effect, which will require local authorities and water companies to comply with tighter controls and targets than are in place at present. One of the requirements will be improved information for the public, with daily water quality results provided. New signs explaining this will also have to be in place by 2012.

Viking Bay has been identified by the Environment Agency as one of ten sites in the UK where a trial project will be put in place, ahead of the new directive. This will predict the water quality 24 hours in advance and how poor weather will affect it. Information will be gathered from rain gauges to warn bathers of any potential short term pollution problems. The trial scheme will be in place between May and September this year and the existing signs on Viking Bay will be used to promote it.

All the bays involved in the trial have been chosen for this trial because they have a history of poorer water quality and the results will be used to provide the Environment Agency with information about how the system could work in practice. Should the trial be successful, it will be rolled out to be used at other resorts.

Principal Leisure Officer, Joe McCarthy, said: "We look forward to the water quality at Viking Bay meeting the excellent guideline requirement through the summer season. To be able to advertise that to visitors and residents on a daily basis will be a really positive step. Taking part in this trial scheme will also help to highlight the issues about water quality that we still occasionally have at Viking Bay. We've been exceptionally successful with gaining prestigious Blue Flags for Thanet in recent years, but sadly Viking Bay has never achieved that status. That's something I'm sure everyone would like to see, as it's an outstanding beach. We want to ensure Viking Bay has the same excellent water quality year round as the rest of the coastline and, if any problems are encountered during the season, it will help add weight to that campaign."

One of the problems faced by Viking Bay is rain water running into the bay. It is hoped that the Environment Agency will recommend future improvements to sewerage and wastewater treatment processes to help improve water quality. Southern Water will be submitting a scheme to OFWAT in April, who will make a decision on it in November.

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