Lack of storm pollution infrastructure has been blamed for a steep decline in beach water quality results that were announced last week.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said that the number of UK bathing beaches it recommended for excellent water quality had dropped 16.5% this year according to its annual Good Beach Guide.
In total, 370 (47.5%) UK beaches this year received the accolade out of 777 tested, compared to 444 last year. This is the biggest year-on-year fall in the guide’s 22 year history.
The MCS blamed the steep drop on a combination of flood water mixed with sewage gushing from combined sewer overflows and polluted storm water running off into rivers and the sea.
MCS coastal pollution officer Thomas Bell said: “Today’s results reflect last summer’s heavy rain which swept waterborne pollutants like raw sewage, petro-chemicals and farm waste into rivers and the sea …we’re becoming concerned that the existing infrastructure for handling storm pollution may not be up to the job.”
MSC added that counter pollution measures needed to be implemented to combat these problems – including investment in sustainable urban drainage systems and expansion of sewer systems to cope with increased volumes of storm water.
The beaches were tested during May to September 2008, which coincided with the seventh wettest British summer on record.