High marks for Sidmouth beaches in ‘quality’ probe

A NEW bathing water probe makes good reading for holidaymakers hoping to take a dip in the sea off Sidmouth this summer.

A NEW bathing water probe makes good reading for holidaymakers hoping to take a dip in the sea off Sidmouth this summer.

Both the town beach and Jacobs Ladder scored high marks for their water quality in an Environment Agency (EA) survey.

The report does reveal experts were carrying out DNA testing on detected traces of faeces to ascertain whether it was human or animal.

Surface water run-off and sewage in rivers are highlighted as having a negative affect on the standard of water.

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A ‘higher’ rating for Jacobs Ladder means its bathing water meets the criteria for the strictest UK standards.

The town beach’s ‘minimum’ score meant that at least 95per cent of samples there met mandatory standards.

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Twenty specimens were taken from each beach between May and October last year.

The EA report reads: “Streams and rivers are typically affected by human sewage, animal slurry and runoff from roads.

“Heavy rain falling on pavements and roads often flows into surface water or highways drains, ending up in local rivers and, ultimately, the sea.

“We found the water quality is worse after heavy rainfall.”

The report reveals Sidmouth’s sewage treatment works discharges disinfected waste 620 meters from the designated bathing area at the town beach and 1.3km from Jacobs Ladder.

It also states operation of emergency and storm overflows, which help stop homes from being flooded, can lead to a drop in bathing water quality.

Wrongly connected domestic waste pipes can also have a negative affect.

“We have found a number of redundant Victorian sewer pipes along the seafront which may have misconnections,” adds the report.

Run-off from nearby farm land, where animals graze, is also identified as being responsible for a reduction in bathing water quality.

Both beaches do not have a history of large amounts of seaweed but are prone to microscopic algae which can discolour water.

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