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!