Seawater quality problem comes under the spotlight

WAYS to ensure that Hastings seawater will meet strict new European quality standards coming into force next year are set to be discussed by councillors on Monday.

Stringent new regulations which effectively halve the permitted level of bacterial pollution mean the beach at Hastings is in jeopardy of failing to achieve European standards, despite improvements in the town’s seawater quality.

One of the main reasons it may not pass the test is the outfall pipe for the stream running through Alexandra Park, and measurements are taken very close to this spot.

Other factors including run off from roads also contribute to the problem.

A two-month investigation into sewer faults has just been completed and the results have been reported to Southern Water, which is fixing its network and the council’s environmental health team, which is ensuring misconnections on private property are addressed.

Members of Hastings Borough Council Cabinet will be commenting on a review that identifies the main factors causing bacterial pollution and action needed to pass the test.

Among the options being considered are diverting the Alexandra Park stream into the sewer network during the bathing season, extending the outfall further out to sea or treating the stream by chemical dosing or ultra violet light.

In a report to councillors, Simon Hubbard, director of regeneration, wrote: “Economically, the impact of failing the quality test is likely to be severe on the visitor, cultural and fishing economies. The damage to the image of the town might be longer term, even if a failure was quickly rectified.

“The issue, clearly, is of environmental concern. Although the quality of seawater has consistently risen in the last years it is importnat that Hastings can demonstrate its beaches are safe for residents and visitors alike.”

Tests are also carried out at a second spot in the borough, at St Leonards, which is viewed as being able to pass the new standard with ease.