Bexhill MP, Huw Merriman, has welcomed the latest data from Southern Water and the Environment Agency which have showed Bexhill bathing water quality within the ‘excellent’ category this year.
This year, Southern Water introduced a ‘shadow’ testing regime which takes frequent water samples across 14 sites in Bexhill, including the Environment Agency’s official testing point at the Egerton Park stream outlet. Coastal samples are prioritised, but inland and upstream water samples are also taken. All Southern Water samples taken in the week commencing 29 May were in the ‘excellent’ water quality category.
The Environment Agency’s own regular water testing of Bexhill bathing waters since 5 May, also show excellent water quality from 3 samples and are far better than the equivalent samples from the last two years.
The increased water testing regime comes following a debate the MP held last autumn in Parliament where he urged water authorities to test Bexhill bathing water quality throughout the year and from more locations.
Following the debate, Southern Water committed to the shadow testing regime and launched a separate project to investigate potential contamination entering the Egerton Park stream, the outlet of which is the water testing point for the Environment Agency.
The project to investigate and identify possible contaminants entering the stream further inland was commissioned with the support of Rother District Council. Whilst no major pollutants have yet been identified, some results have led to further investigation and the project will continue until the whole area has been mapped and analysed.
Speaking after his bi-monthly meeting with the Southern Water to discuss the findings, Mr Merriman said
“Bexhill’s beaches are really important for residents, tourists, and local business so the sea water needs to be of highest quality. I strongly felt that not enough work was being carried out by the relevant authorities to establish why Bexhill beach was only deemed to have “sufficient” water quality unlike neighbouring beaches which achieved “excellent”.
“This is why last year I sought assurances from the then Environment Secretary that our water quality would be prioritised for investment and I asked Southern Water and Environment Agency to carry out more work to investigate why our bathing waters were not cleaner.
“I am pleased with the response from both organisations who are now carrying out more water testing and working to establish causes of pollutions. The latest water testing results show that Bexhill’s bathing water quality is better than may have previously been thought and this is good news for the town.”
“I hope these results will provide more reassurance for those who will be making the most of the sea in these sunny days. However, very heavy rainfall can still result in combined sewage releases into the sea to prevent homes being flooded. However, a separate new ‘Outfall Awareness’ project being carried out by Southern Water will clearly identify all 11 outfall pipes along Bexhill beach which will also better inform the public about what comes out of them.”