LYME REGIS: Water quality at Church Cliff beach has been turned around and is now on track to pass tough new Environment Agency standards.

The turn around comes after the EA issued a warning in May that water at the beach was deemed ‘severely at risk’ of failing the standards.

The agency launched its summer monitoring programme, which claimed around 40 beaches around England are ‘on track to fail’ if action is not taken to tackle pollution ending up in the sea.

From next year, more stringent European Union regulations will be brought in for bathing spots around England, and if beaches fail on water quality standards under the new rules, local authorities will have to display a sign advising against swimming.

More than 400 beaches are currently being tested weekly until September, with a total of 8,400 samples set to be taken.

And under the latest water quality weekly in-season results for August 7, both Church Cliff beach and Front Beach in Lyme were given the ‘higher standard’ rating by the Environment Agency – the highest rating possible.

Also, the EA’s water quality prediction for August 19 claimed that no water quality warning needed to be issued.

There’s also good news for Charmouth West beach, which has been given the same ranking and water quality prediction.

The new rankings come after South West Water, which worked with Lyme Regis Town Council and the Environment Agency to help improve the water quality, pledged last November to spend another £500,000 in Lyme Regis to improve its infrastructure over the next 18 months.

Lyme Regis town councillor, Mark Gage, told The News: “We’re very pleased with any improvements to the rating of beaches in Lyme but we are well aware there is an awful lot of work still to be done to maintain the higher water quality.

“We have been very reassured by the South West Water investment which we believe will do a lot to improve the water quality and protecting the standards of that beach.

“The town council will be meeting with South West Water, the Environment Agency and West Dorset District Council in September to discuss what we can do next.”

In April, Church Cliff Beach was ranked ‘mandatory’ in this year’s Good Beach Guide after it failed the list last year.

The popular beach still faces the threat of de-designation if it is categorised as poor in 2015.

The Environment Agency stated in May that nine out of 10 swimming spots in England were already meeting the new standards, but there were still areas where pollution was a problem; caused by agricultural run-off, sewage overflows, animal and bird faeces on beaches and households and businesses with badly connected drains.

Water quality results as of August 7 and how the years compare
2009 – fail
2010 – fail
2011 – minimum standard
2012 – fail
2013 – minimum standard
2014 – higher standard

2009 – minimum standard    
2010 – minimum standard
2011 – minimum standard
2012 – minimum standard
2013 – higher standard
2014 – higher standard