Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

Recreational risks from river & estuary pollution of the Devon Avon (Aune)

The ACA has long been concerned about the potential hazards of recreational use of the Avon Estuary, despite it being swept by tides twice per day (>ECOLOGY>WATER QUALITY).   The Sewage Treatment Works at Aveton Gifford and other sources of pollution, as described in the Rivers Trust website (see link below) are unpredictable sources of water pollution.  Using rivers for swimming, paddling, fishing and playing is fantastically rewarding and good for our health, but like all outdoor sports, carries an element of risk. There is no public health monitoring of river water quality in the UK, so this map (see link below) will help river users weigh up the risk before taking to the water. It shows some of the sources of pathogens (bacteria or viruses) in rivers which can cause illnesses. The Rivers Trust is calling on all river users to join us in tackling these issues.

Use the Search box to find your location or zoom on the map to see the locations of discharges from the sewerage network which are entering rivers. Avoid entering the water immediately downstream of these discharges, especially after it has been raining. Click the Legend and different symbol information buttons or click symbols on the map to popup information about the types of risks. Use the Layer List button to see other layers, including river flow direction so you can check whether the discharges are upstream of your location.

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=a6dd42e3bc264fc28134c64c00db4a5b&extent=-401307.0872%2C6628364.5565%2C-130261.3849%2C6788576.5678%2C102100

 

Many factors are not possible to show on a map. These include timings and locations of agricultural pollutions, discharges from badly connected household appliances and hidden septic tanks which are not in our datasets. This is why we can never be 100% sure that a location is safe for swimming or recreational access.

Upper estuary improvement by Bantham Estate

Following the purchase by the Bantham Estate of Little Marsh, on the bridge at Aveton Gifford, we are pleased to point out the significant clearance of boat ‘junk’ and potential pollutants of the upper estuary from around the foreshore.

The ACA continues to work with the Estate  towards achieving a common understanding of the future for the estuary; a future that will conserve and improve the unspoilt character of this beautiful idyll.

Bathing Water designation and microbiological testing for Avon estuary?

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.