£4bn boost for British beaches

More than 160 beaches in England and Wales are to share the benefits of a £4bn investment programme of environmental work to tackle pollution at source.

The programme, negotiated by the Environment Agency, will see water companies investing in dozens of projects over the next five years.

Most of these will lead to direct improvements in water quality, while others will take the form of scientific investigations to help identify the source of pollution.

Dubbed CSI Seaside by the agency, ground-breaking technology will be used to pinpoint sources of pollution, using DNA techniques to identify the source of faecal and sewerage pollution.

On top of this programme, water companies will also be required to fit monitoring equipment on some 340 sewer outlet pipes, which can overflow during periods of heavy rainfall.

Chris Tuckett, the Environment Agency’s bathing water lead, said: “Bathing water quality around England and Wales has improved dramatically over the past 20 years but we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to do more.

“New standards that come into force in 2015 will set even more ambitious targets and we are using the latest technology available to help meet these goals.

“By using cutting edge equipment and the latest forensic techniques, we can help pinpoint the exact causes of pollution and tackle them.

“Everyone has a part to play in improving bathing water quality. As well as using new technology, we are working with local communities to further improve our bathing waters in the coming years.”

Agricultural manure, animal faeces, human sewage and runoff from urban areas remain the most common causes of bathing water pollution.

David Gibbs

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie