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RECORD UK BATHING WATER RESULTS NOT GOOD ENOUGH, SAY SAS

18:33 17th November 2002 by
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RECORD UK BATHING WATER RESULTS FAIL TO PROTECT THE WATER USER OF TODAY

The UK’s record bathing water quality results mean very little to today’s water
user, when their compliance is based on EU legislation that is 26 years out
of date and when sampling results are not used in conjunction with practical
beach management actions, believe clean water advocates Surfers Against Sewage.

The record high of 98.5% for England’s designated bathing waters which meet
the EU’s very basic water quality standard, holds very little water when you
consider the sampling techniques employed fail to use the best ‘public health
risk’ indicators, that bathing waters are subject to seasonal testing only and
when only areas where people swim are recognised as needing to be tested. These
factors are further compounded by the lack of in situ management actions at
bathing waters, in terms of warning signs when quality deteriorates or risk
to health increases.

What the results do show is that targeted investment by the Water Industry
is paying off and that focus now needs to turn towards other factors influencing
bathing water quality such as agricultural pollution.

A new proposal for a revised EU Bathing Water Directive has recently been published
by the European Commission. To date it has not gone far enough to protect the
water user of today, with the Commission once again basing the Directive around
the protection of the bather rather than recognising the significant number
of recreational water users practising their sport in waters in Europe. SAS
also have reservations concerning the proposed microbiological standards set
for bathing waters, questioning why there need to be two different quality standards
and whether the protection afforded by proposed standards is acceptable to the
water user.

The revised Directive will also need to provide better real time information
for the public and this is one area the Commission seems to have embraced in
part. Providing the public with information about water quality is just one
tool in a suite of management measures that should include information on the
movement of effluent plumes, location of sewage outfalls and levels of sewage
treatment.

Vicky Garner, Campaign Director at Surfers Against Sewage says, "We can’t
read too much into these results. The current Bathing Water Directive is great
for the statistician who wants a convenient set of figures to determine compliance
by, but it fails the water user on three counts. Firstly no practical management
action is taken at a bathing water at the time the water fails, secondly the
standards are not representative of risk to health and thirdly it ignores the
millions of recreational water users who take to the water year round throughout
Europe".

For further information please contact Vicky or Richard on Tel: 01872 553001/07817
401480.

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