The initiative, ‘Smart Coasts; Sustainable Communities’, was given £2.7 million from the EU’s Wales/Ireland Cross Border programme.

The money will be used to develop a system for forecasting water quality, based on sampling and analysis as well as field and coastal data.

The system will provide a better understanding of pollution sources and link data to electronic information systems to provide bathers with up-to-date details of water conditions.

The Smart Coasts project is led in Wales by Aberystwyth University and by University College Dublin in Ireland. The project will also work with Environment Agency Wales and Environmental Protection Agency-Ireland.

Aberystwyth University’s professor David Kay, said: “This real-time management approach offers both public health benefits and the opportunity to maintain existing high levels of bathing water compliance, even with the new tighter standards.

“We need a much more detailed understanding of the sources and pathways of potential pollution from land-based sources and throughout the coastal zone as well as the development of new predictive modelling approaches to deliver the real-time-prediction of water quality linked to electronic information systems.”

Bathing beaches throughout the European Union are required to comply with the new EU Bathing Water Directive (2006) by 2015, with sampling for the new Directive commencing in 2012.

The standards in this legislation have been tightened to maintain good water quality and protect public health and are derived from the World Health Organization Guidelines for Recreational Waters.

Alison Brown

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