Lyme Regis: Councillors vow to improve Church Beach water quality (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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Lyme Regis: Councillors vow to improve Church Beach water quality
COUNCILLORS have pledged to improve water quality on a Lyme Regis beach before tough ratings are introduced in 2015.
Church Cliff Beach scraped a ‘mandatory’ rating in Environment Agency scores this year after an embarrassing fail grade in 2011.
Members of Lyme Regis Town Council’s strategy and policy committee were told that there was the option to apply to the Department for Food and Rural Affairs de-designate it as a bathing beach.
But councillors instead vowed to take all measures possible to improve the water quality – and demanded greater input from South West Water.
Committee chairman Mark Gage said: “We have had a number of meetings to try and resolve this issue.
“The input from West Dorset District Council and the Environment Agency has been extremely helpful but it has been nothing other than lacklustre from South West Water.
“They really need to step up on this and need to attend meetings.
“We need to get all groups with responsibility around the table to resolve this.”
He added: “We need to meet again and we need to have South West Water at that meeting.
“We need to have in place an action plan so we can get the quality up to where it needs to be for the new standards.”
District council head of public health Jeanette Guy told committee members that tighter standards are to be introduced in 2015.
Under the rules, signs must also be erected with a description of the bathing water and when bathing water is temporarily advised against under a ‘poor’ classification and a map.
She said that the town council could decide whether to apply to Defra to de-designate the beach so it is not included in the new system.
Pigeons nesting near the river flowing in the sea at the beach, the position of testing from the river mouth rather than sea and run-off were among some of the reasons blamed for the poor water quality.
A spokesman for South West Water said: “We have been working with the Environment Agency and West Dorset District Council to identify factors affecting bathing water quality at Church Beach.
“These investigations have found that our sewerage network is not the significant contributor to water quality problems at the River Lym, which impacts on bathing water quality at Church Beach.
“We have invested £140,000 investigating the Lyme Regis catchment in partnership with the Environment Agency.
“This included looking at leaking sewers, properties misconnecting toilets and washing machines to surface water drainage, road gullies, dog effluent, bird fouling and farm run-off, all of which can adversely impact on bathing water quality.”
Coun Terry O’Grady suggested that the council pursue its own independent water quality tests.
Coun Lucy Campbell said that there was still time to tackle the issue by 2015.
Coun Anita Williams added: “It is a bathing beach and always has been “It is a bit disingenuous to strike it off rather than resolve the problem.”
Councillors agreed not to de-designate the beach but also to investigate the possibility and cost of independent testing.