The cleanliness of our bathing waters was again the focus at a recent meeting held by local MPs Sally-Ann Hart and Huw Merriman with Ian McAulay, CEO of Southern Water together with other Southern Water Heads of Department. Malcolm Johnston, CEO of Rother District Council and Jane Hartnell, Managing Director of Hastings Borough Council also attended.
Ian McAulay explained that the pollution in our sea waters and water ways comes from many sources including agriculture, rainwater and surface water from highways as well as combined sewer overflows. It is important that all sources of pollution be accurately identified, quantified and then managed in the most effective way- the key is to identify, measure, and manage pollution pathways. He stated that in addition to conventional monitoring and sampling of discharges and water quality, we should aim to implement digital mapping and monitoring, for example from satellite and drone technologies. This would help extend the knowledge of where a discharge comes from and how we can best deal with it. It is essential that Water Companies, Highways Agencies, Local Authorities, the Environment Agency, Farmers and the NFU work together to achieve this. This is something which Southern Water are trialling along with real time water quality monitoring and they would hope that with good collaboration systems could be widely deployed by 2030.
Local issues and concerns were also discussed.
Following the meeting Sally-Ann Hart said:-
“ It is important that all agencies and stakeholders work together to improve the quality of our waters. I will be lobbying for all round testing of our bathing waters in my constituency and all along the South Coast”
Huw Merriman added:-
“I joined Southern Water engineers in Egerton Park last month as part of their ongoing investigations into sources of pollution of bathing water. The surface water and Egerton Stream which runs under the park ends up flows into our sea bathing waters. Our visit followed a night of heavy wind and rain so I was pleased to find that all samples taken were clear of any sewage or other pollution and the only debris found was leaves. Given that our local bathing water is only graded sufficient by the Environment Agency, there is clearly more work to be done to identify the source of pollutant entering the sea. I was pleased to hear that Southern Water share our ambition to get all our local coastal bathing waters up to excellent grading all year round. However, the solution does not only lie with them I will be working with all relevant agencies to establish the source so that we can achieve this goal.”