Archive for July, 2015
Bathers and watercraft users cannot be protected from microbiological hazards in the upper Avon estuary under the Bathing Waters Directive. The Environment Agency does not monitor recreational waters for microbes unless they are designated as Bathing Waters. The regular bather numbers in the upper Avon estuary are too low to justify designation under the Bathing Waters Directive, we have been told. Users of watercraft of various types are excluded from the count.
An alternative approach could be to post warning signs about possible pollution risks so that recreational river users can be made aware of the possible microbiological hazard. To date, Aveton Gifford Parish Council has resisted such a move and South West Water has not cooperated in providing information to the public about the occurrence and timing of the 10 permitted combined sewer overflows (CSO) from the sewage works at Aveton Gifford.
South West Water is taking action to reduce domestic sewer overflows onto local roads and streams running into the upper Avon estuary by separating foul water from rain water (see link below) but the CSO will continue for the foreseeable future. So BEWARE!
This is notice of a formal request – in line with DEFRA policy and guidelines (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bathing-waters) – to designate the Devon Avon estuary (Avon GB 510804606000 -Transitional Water) as a site requiring microbiological testing during the period May to September under the Bathing Waters Directive.
The estuary is increasingly used for recreational purposes, including swimming and boating by enthusiasts, schools, tourists, etc., (see http://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/events/?id=112 & http://www.singingpaddles.co.uk/Specialist%20Paddling%20Courses%20in%20South%20Devon.htm) yet is subject to 10 permitted sewage by-passes per year from the Aveton Gifford sewage works and is exposed to unmonitored effluent from many other sources - including sewerage system failures in the village of Aveton Gifford. Between Loddiswell and Bantham there are many known discharge points for domestic sewage systems into the River Avon, licensed but not routinely monitored by the Environment Agency (EA). Other systems are so ancient that they pre-date the need for a license and may not even feature in the EA records. Many of these private systems are subject to highly variable seasonal loading and consequent failure during the main (May-September) tourist season when the local population explodes in number. In addition, this popular, recreational water receives the agricultural run-off from many farms in the lower part of the Devon Avon catchment. The downstream oyster fishery, which is routinely monitored under the Shellfish Waters Directive, has recently been closed due to microbiological contamination.
The water in the upper Avon estuary, near the Timbers car park, is at particular risk of microbiological contamination but the nearest microbiological testing points for bathing waters are at Bantham and Bigbury, at the estuary mouth. No ‘Beach Live’ alerting system to warn the public of microbiological hazards is operational despite requests to South West Water to implement such a system, for example, by the use of local community websites. Furthermore, there is no easily accessible warning about the potential health risks arising from exposure to the river water in the area.
As part of the Great British Beach Clean, we are organising a clean up of rubbish on Cockleridge on Sunday 20th September between 3pm & 4pm (low water will be around 4.30pm) – weather permitting You can sign up via this link - http://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/user/register
Please see our safety guidelines and further details here – http://auneconservation.org.uk/?page_id=791
If in doubt call Stuart Watts on 01548 810373.
We shall be recording details of what we find to complement our previous surveys and to add to the national database maintained by the Marine Conservation Society. Some interesting information about last year’s (2014) MCS results is available here – http://www.mcsuk.org/what_we_do.php/Clean+seas+and+beaches/Reports+and+downloads/Beachwatch+results+2014