Public urged to play their part in improving bathing water quality

Residents, businesses and visitors are being urged to play their part as a multimillion pound project to enhance Worthing’s bathing water quality is stepped up.

Adur & Worthing Councils are working with Southern Water and others to protect and conserve the shoreline for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit each year.

From preventing public toilets flushing direct into the sea to reducing animal faeces on the beach, a raft of measures have been introduced to help Worthing reach the top rating of excellent by the summer of 2020.

While the recent water quality results show that this mark has not yet been hit, those behind the scheme are confident the improvements will have a long-term lasting impact.

Councillor Edward Crouch, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “We’re proud of the wonderful coastal environment that is on our doorstep and want to do everything we can to preserve and enhance it for future generations.

“One of the key ways we can do that is by working with partners to take measures to improve the quality of our bathing water: the better our water becomes the better the offer becomes for residents and visitors which can only be good news for the town as a whole.

“For that reason I urge everyone to do what they can to make sure our beaches and water remain free from waste and bacteria. You really can make a difference.”

The work forms part of Southern Water’s £31.5 million bathing water quality enhancement programme which launched last Spring.

It also feeds into the Councils’ Sustainability Framework agreed last month, which is aimed at conserving and protecting the unique environment across Adur and Worthing.

In total more than £2 million has been invested in Worthing with the aim of reducing waste and bacteria entering the sea. It has seen the Councils and Southern Water working with Environment Agency, landowners, charities, sewerage system owners and customers on a raft of measures.

Work that has already taken place which includes:

  • connecting public toilets to the mains network rather flowing direct into the sea;
  • repairing faulty or broken sewers, such as the one near to the junction between West Parade and Wallace Avenue, ;
  • identifying and fixing misconnected properties, where waste water pipes were connected to the wrong network and flowed directly out to sea;
  • improving emergency protocol at East Worthing wastewater treatment work;
  • installing information signs along the seafront to encourage dog owners to pick up after their pets;
  • promoting the Southern Water “Three Ps” education programme which encourages customers to only flush poo, pee and paper down the toilet.

Work already planned ahead of next summer includes:

  • investigating companies and construction firms for discarding waste water direct into the surface water network;
  • extra dog patrols during the summer months to encourage responsible pet ownership;
  • new bins to be installed along the seafront to reduce discarded waste;
  • a series of council-supported beach cleans with residents and businesses.

The public are also being urged to do their part – whether that’s discarding their waste in bins, not feeding seagulls who will then defecate on the beach, picking up poo from their pets or simply identifying damaged or misconnected water connections. All of the above will help reduce the amount of waste and bacteria in the sea.

Alison Hoyle, Southern Water’s director of resilience and regulatory compliance, said:  “We are thrilled this has been another great year for our region’s beaches – they are a vital asset and of huge importance to the people who live and work here.

“A collaborative approach to bathing water compliance is crucial, which is why we work very closely with regulators, charities, local authorities and other key stakeholders. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved together and look forward to working with them in the future.”

Bathing water quality tests are taken regularly by the Environment Agency throughout the summer months at a number of key locations, including Worthing (bottom of Heene Road), Shoreham (Ferry Road) and Lancing (Beach Green).

Thanks to the investment so far, the annual rating in Worthing has increased from Poor in 2017 to Good in 2018. Other ratings registered locally this year were Lancing – Good, Shoreham – Good and Southwick – Excellent.

This annual assessment is then used to create an official Defra result, which is based on an average of tests taken over a four year period.

The most recent Defra readings published this month show Lancing – Good, Shoreham – Good, Southwick – Excellent, and Worthing – Sufficient.

The Council and Southern Water believe the investment will increase the annual reading in Worthing to excellent by 2020 – although they acknowledge it will be a while before this is officially shown in the Defra ratings.

Cllr Crouch said: “Improving bathing water quality is not something that happens overnight. Even when we reach that gold standard of excellent, our previous years results will mean that this will not be recognised by the Environment Agency for a while.

“The important thing is that this investment will make sure that we are on the right track. It is then up to us – as residents, businesses and visitors – to make sure that we play our small part to keep the beaches and water free from waste.”

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