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Home   Thanet   News   Article

Water quality tests may be stopped at Cliftonville beach in Walpole Bay

18 March 2014
by Peter Barnett

Cliftonville beach at Walpole Bay

Cliftonville beach at Walpole Bay

Water quality sampling tests may be removed from the secluded Cliftonville beach at Walpole Bay where two poor quality readings were taken in 2011.

But Thanet District Council said even without the tests visitors and residents should continue to swim in the sea.

Cllr Iris Johnston, cabinet member for community services said: “People swim at Walpole Bay all the time and we won’t be putting up signs to warn them off. The water quality at Margate and Botany Bay either side of Walpole Bay is absolutely fine.

“The last testing at Walpole Bay was in 2011. Since then the majority of the 20 readings showed the standard of water to be excellent.”

A public consultation that considered a proposal to remove testing drew 89 responses which have been passed on to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)for consideration, along with the beach user surveys undertaken by the Environment Agency during the summer of 2012.

Defra will then determine whether water sampling is removed at this beach.

The Environment Agency has not been able to identify the specific reasons as to why there were two poor water quality readings three years ago.

Since that time overall water quality at Walpole Bay has met the required standard and the majority of the 20 readings taken since were “excellent”.

A council spokesman said: “Many residents and visitors enjoy this secluded bay and value the tidal pool as it provides a superb safe swimming area with a variety of marine life that can be easily observed once the tide goes out.

“The council welcomes this use and wants visitors to continue to enjoy the beach and pool.

“We understand local businesses benefit from their location next to the bay and we want to do what we can to encourage more people to visit.

“If water sampling is removed, the beach would remain open and members of the public could still swim here.”

There are eight beaches across Thanet which do not have water sample tests taken, but are still visited and used for swimming.

If water sampling continues at Walpole Bay, in summer 2015 the council is “almost certain” to be required to display signs on the beach advising members of the public not to swim – even though water quality meets the current required standard.

This is due to the introduction of new stricter European regulations which consider water quality at the beach up to four years ago.

The spokesman added: “The council is concerned a sign advising members of the public against swimming could impact upon the confidence of all visitors who use the beach.”

Signs are displayed across all of Thanet’s beaches if there is an incident affecting water quality.

Water quality would continue to be monitored at Botany Bay and Margate Main Sands, which are close enough to identify any significant issues.

If the numbers of people swimming in the sea at Walpole Bay significantly increased in the future, an application could be submitted to Defra to reinstate water sample tests.

Walpole Bay is cleaned on a regular basis during the summer season – increasing cleaning at the beach would not directly improve the quality of the water.

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