Poor water quality at our beaches?

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Mile after mile os sand and views and a blue flag , Rhossili Beach, Gower

Mile after mile os sand and views and a blue flag , Rhossili Beach, Gower

This week there was the annual announcement about the quality of the water on our beaches.

Shock, horror! The UK has slumped compared to a year ago. The media made merry with the “decline” despite the fact that they tended not to point out that the way in which water quality is measured has altered.

A year ago it was being pointed out that it would be surprising if the number of beaches retaining blue-flag status would be as high. Over the last few years the number with blue flag status has steadily risen to 485 beaches in 2014. In 2015, it dropped to 377 so 108 beaches lost their status.

But the measurement of water leading to blue-flag status is iffy at the best of times. If there had been storms during the monitoring period there would have been a decline in standards.

Bearing in mind that the blue flag scheme tells you what beaches were like last year should we even bother with a scheme that tells us what things were like not what they are?  It means that your nose and your eyes would be a better guide to whether the beach is clean or not.

That the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has issued a statement saying that the UK risked becoming the dirty man of Europe unless it invested. This is a bit rich coming from an organisation that, last year, pointed out the change that was coming in measurement and that some beaches would not fulfil the new criteria.

Having thrown the brickbat at the MCS, there is no reason why we shouldn’t invest and shouldn’t aim at having clean water.  It is also right of the MCS to point out that the government doesn’t help by “of stripping beaches of their status as designated bathing sites, which has happened to Staithes in Yorkshire and a number of other sites, despite their use for swimming by the public.”

As I have written before, when you arrive at the beach, you are a better decision-maker on whether to go in the water than blue-flags ever will be until they monitor the water on a daily basis.


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