An aerial photo looking across the coastline in St Austell, Cornwall

Water quality issues impacting coastal communities

A new survey from the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group has outlined how councils on the coast are feeling the impact of the deterioration of water quality.

According to the survey, coastal councils are highly concerned about the way that poor water quality will impact people’s health, as well as coastal habitats. Tourism losses were reported by 70% of the councils, with this being led by sewage, farming runoffs, and waste. 90% of the councils that participated in the survey also believe that there is a lack of water quality testing being carried out in coastal waters.

This has led to the councils claiming that the Environment Agency need to put more testing in place, which can support an increase in recreational use of coastal waters. More detailed analysis would also allow councils to understand what action they can take to improve water quality. This can have big benefits, with many coastal regions relying on good water quality to drive the local economy.

Water quality quote

Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk’s Cabinet Member for Environmental and Coastal Cllr Sandra Squire, who is also Member Champion for Coastal Water Quality at LGA Coastal SIG, said:

“Coastal councils have long recognised the impact poor water quality can have on local communities, tourism, and the shellfish industry.

“This report highlights that poor bathing water quality affects councils around the country and shows how it is now critical that water pollution is taken seriously as a national problem, with steps taken to improve all of our coastal waters as an urgent priority.”

An independent review of water companies has been called for by the Special Interest Group, as well as the removal of self-monitoring, changing the water quality monitoring programme, and a review of the Pollution Risk Forecasting system. Further proposed action would also see the Environment Agency given more resources to support them as they look to deal with the challenge.

LGA Environment Spokesperson, Cllr Darren Rodwell, also commented:

“The local economies of many coastal communities are dependent on maintaining good water quality, whether it be through fishing, water sports or tourism.

“For the sake of these communities, their health, and the planet, we are urging the Government to properly resource the regular testing of coastal waters.”


Image credit: iStock


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