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Minster Leas, Leysdown and Deal Castle chosen for multi-million pound project to protect and enhance their beaches

By Chloe Holmwood

Although it's a bit drizzly outside, today is actually the start of bathing water season.

To mark the occasion, Southern Water has announced it will be working alongside local authorities to improve water quality at three beaches in Kent as part of its £31.5 million Bathing Water Enhancement Programme.

Deal Castle will receive £3.9 million, Minster Leas £2.8 million and Leysdown £4.9 million to bring their bathing water quality up to an "excellent" standard.

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Leysdown beach on the Isle of Sheppey
Leysdown beach on the Isle of Sheppey

This comes after a year of investigations by coastal sampling teams, microbial (DNA) source tracing and CCTV surveys.

Paul Kent, Southern Water's wastewater strategy manager, said: "We're immensely proud of this groundbreaking project and Deal Castle, Minster Leas and Leysdown were selected after a year-long investigation in the sources of pollution.

Minster Beach Huts, Minster Leas, Sheppey
Minster Beach Huts, Minster Leas, Sheppey

"Our customers asked us to help boost more bathing waters in the region up to 'excellent' standard and, with the support of local authorities and others, that's exactly what we're doing.

"We're thrilled to be playing such an active part in protecting and enhancing our region's bathing waters."

Detailed investigations into what can affect bathing water quality at these locations found key factors include:

  • Misconnections of wastewater pipes into the surface water: these can be traced to source by Southern Water and the local council can then work with householders to get the problem put right.

  • DNA tracing showed contamination from dogs and seabirds was another key issue: potential remedies include introducing restrictions on the beach during bathing water season and a public awareness campaign around not feeding birds as well as encouraging dog owners to clean up after their pets.
Deal Castle by the coast
Deal Castle by the coast

In total, seven bathing waters were chosen to receive investment, with the aim of them achieving an "excellent" status over the 2019 bathing water season and beyond.

The other four were Selsey, Middleton-on-Sea and Worthing in Sussex, and Shanklin on the Isle of Wight.

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