St Leonards bathing water quality praised

ST LEONARDS beach has been praised for the cleanliness of its water.

It was given the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) seal of approval in the launch of the organisation’s Good Beach Guide for 2012.

St Leonards beach is one of 516 out of 754 across the UK to get the MCS Recommended title after the waters were tested last summer.

Last year it achieved the same title. However Hastings was again given the Mandatory mark this year, the minimum level beaches have to reach, but it failed to meet the stricter UK Guideline standard, which sets tighter targets on the level of bacteria found in the bathing water.

Hastings beach has met national clean water standards every year since 1998 but in recent years the water quality has dropped.

In March last year scientists from the Environment Agency (EA) started using DNA tracing to find out the source of faecal pollution affecting the town’s sea water.

Every summer, water quality is assessed at UK beaches which have been designated as bathing waters under the European Bathing Water Directive.

During the bathing season, samples are usually taken once a week by the relevant authority and tested for bacteria, which indicate the presence of pollution from sewage and/or animal waste.

Rachel Wyatt, MCS coastal pollution officer, said: “This summer will see the first samples taken under the revised Bathing Water Directive, which will replace the current standards with far more stringent ones from 2015. It is really important that local authorities, water companies and environmental regulators do not become complacent and take their collective feet off the pedal of continued environmental improvements. If that happens we could see a drop in the number of beaches recommended by us in the future, which could pose a risk to the great reputation that British beaches have.”

A spokesman for Hastings Borough Council said: “Although Hastings has passed the current Bathing Water Quality standards for 2011, we are working hard with both Southern Water and the Environment Agency to ensure that the higher standard is achieved.”