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Strict water quality tests threaten beach
LYME REGIS could lose one of its designated bathing beaches as water tests become stricter.
Continued poor performance from Church Cliff Beach could see it lose its prized status as a bathing beach as EU water sampling tests become much stricter.
That was the warning from Brian Grant from the Environment Agency who was giving a presentation on the revised EU water bathing directive to the town council tourism and economic development committee meeting.
The agency focuses its tests on the levels of e-Coli G and intertestinal enterococci G in the water and in the past there have been mandatory and guideline tests on water quality. Interim results released in August by the Environment Agency showed Church Cliff failed the stricter guideline tests.
Under the revised directive, a new classification scheme is being introduced so that beaches are either poor, sufficient, good, or excellent, and will be judged over a rolling four year period.
Latest predictions show Church Cliff will be “poor” for the first year.
The new method will also see the much more stringent tests based on percentages, so that of the 20 samples taken per bathing season, 90 percent of the samples need to have the required levels to reach the minimum sufficient level.
If the beach continues to perform badly over a five year period it could end up being de-designated, meaning the Environment Agency would no longer sample the water and a permanent sign would be installed to inform bathers of the poor quality.
Coun Mark Gage said the town council was strongly against the de-designation of Church Cliff.
Coun Gage said: “The position we are in as a town council is that we feel very strongly that Church Cliff is a viable beach and we are not in favour of the proposed de-designation.
“The coastal works are excellent and we are very lucky to have them. When they are done they will considerably improve access to the back beach area and at the end of that footpath so we are expecting it to be better used.
“We as a council must do everything we can do to improve the water quality on that beach. De-designating it would be the easiest way out and a lot more can be done.”
Recent investigations carried out by the Environment Agency have highlighted potential causes and sources of water pollution, with the River Lym running into the sea at Church Cliff continuing to cause problems.
Issues with pigeons roosting under the bridges on the river, misconnected sewage pipes from domestic and business properties, cracked sewers and dog mess have all contributed to the poor quality water.