Recently there has been significant progress in improving bathing water quality in East Kent, led by the Environment Agency, working with partners including Southern Water and voluntary groups. This is great news, not only for water quality, but also for the local coastal economy, which is so dependent on tourism.
The national bathing water results published recently revealed that 98.3% of England’s bathing waters passed minimum standards, and 92% were rated ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’. Maintaining such high water quality standards is a huge success. In our Area, all 39 of our bathing waters now pass the minimum standards. Overall, we have 23 bathing waters rated ‘Excellent’, 13 ‘Good’ and 3 ‘Sufficient’. The big success for us has been raising the water quality at Walpole Bay in Thanet from a ‘Poor’ to ‘Sufficient’ classification for the first time, which is great news for local people and businesses.
Water quality can be affected by a wide range of issues – misconnections, seaweed, dog fouling, bird poo, litter and the influence of river water discharges – so working in partnership is fundamental to maintaining and improving bathing water standards. We have long-established joint working, including partnering with Southern Water on the ‘Beauty of the Beach’ public awareness raising campaign.
The Thanet Bathing Water Steering Group – made up of Southern Water, Thanet District Council, Kent County Council and the Environment Agency – has prioritised some important work this year. It includes investigating and cleaning the local sewer network, removing seaweed from the beach, raising awareness among local businesses about misconnections and combating anti-social behaviour; all of which has no doubt made a difference to our bathing water results. Walpole Bay will remain one of our priority bathing waters in Thanet, and we will continue to work in partnership to try to improve water quality at this beach and all our other bathing waters.