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Call for the public to help improve Lyme's bathing water
THE public is being called upon to help ensure a Lyme Regis beach does not fall short of new bathing water standards.
The European Bathing Water Directive will come into force in 2015, setting out much tougher standards for water quality.
Church Beach has consistently failed to reach basic European standards in recent years but the town council has been working with West Dorset District Council, the Environment Agency and South West Water to improve the situation.
The Environment Agency is in the process of implementing the revised Bathing Water Directive, which will also require public information about water quality being displayed on beaches.
The new directive will have four classification categories – excellent, good, sufficient, and poor.
Under this method of testing, Church Beach would receive a ‘poor’ rating.
With only two years to go until the new standards are enforced, the Environment Agency is organising a series of community events in the 20 areas in the South West which are at risk of failing.
An event will be held in Lyme Regis on Saturday, March 23 in the Marine Parade Shelters from 10am to 4pm, highlighting how everyone has a part to play in improving bathing water quality.
It will tie in with the Love Lyme’s Beaches Day, organised by the Dorset Coast Forum in a celebration of the resort’s beaches.
The Environment Agency wants to work with the communities affected to help turn the situation around.
Jonathan Ponting, bathing water project manager for the Environment Agency in the South West, said: “Bathing water quality has improved significantly over the past two decades but more needs to be done by water companies, businesses, farmers, local authorities and communities to help at risk bathing waters pass the new standards.
“Community organisations are joining us in organising these events, which are being designed to inform people about how we sample bathing waters, explaining the possible sources of pollution and solutions, and the actions we would like people to take.”
A number of sources of pollution affect bathing waters and Lyme Regis is particularly susceptible because the River Lym runs straight into the sea at Church Beach.
These include run off from fields, livestock in the watercourse, and wrongly connected drains from properties.
Exceptionally heavy rainfall has also been largely to blame in recent years, which causes more pollution to be washed into bathing waters.
The agency is running an e-consultation on its Facebook page, asking the public how much they know and value their bathing waters and whether they would be willing to take action.