What can I do to help improve bathing water quality?

Main sources of pollution

Lots of different things can contribute towards reduced water quality on a beach. To understand what you can do to help its useful to understand what the main sources of bathing water pollution are.

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  • Pollution from sewage
    Bacteria from sewage can enter our waters as a result of system overflows or failures associated with the sewage network and sewage works.
  • Drainage from rural land
    Manure from livestock, poorly stored or applied slurry can wash into rivers and streams resulting in bacteria entering the sea.
  • Drainage from urban areas
    Water draining from streets and roads can contain pollution from a variety of sources, including waste produced by animals and birds.
  • Sewage misconnections
    If a property is not connected to the sewage network properly or septic tanks not adequately maintained waste can escape and pollute surface water systems.
  • Animal waste on beaches
    Birds are naturally found on the beach and animals such as dogs and horses are often exercised on beaches. Waste produced from these animals can contain high levels of bacteria that can impact on water quality.

There are a number of things that you can do to help improve the quality of bathing waters, some of these are listed below.

  • Check your home or business is properly connected.
    This will ensure any waste water produced is treated properly. More information on this can be found on the Connect Right website. If your property is connected to a septic tank check its well maintained and working properly.
  • Love Your Loo
    The love your loo campaign is run by South West Water (SWW) and help raises awareness about the problems associated with flushing some sanitary products down the toilet.
  • Think FOG
    Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) run a campaign about Fats, Oils and Greases (FOG's), which are sometimes wrongly disposed of by pouring them down the drain. FOG's can cause blockages in the sewage network, reducing water treatment efficiency.
  • Sign up to the Cleaner Coastal Catchment pledges
    SAS are running a Cleaner Coastal Catchment project on a number of bathing waters in the south west, including Porth near Newquay. The initiative helps communities deliver improved water quality at the coast, encourages people to learn more about their catchment and helps identify the roles that everyone can play in protecting and improving bathing water quality.
  • Be a responsible animal owner
    If you exercise an animal on a beach please respect exclusion areas and pick up any faecal waste.
  • Don't drop litter
    Dropping litter, whether on the street or the beach, not only looks unsightly but will attract animals who will produce bacteria rich waste. If there is less litter there will be fewer animals attracted to it. There are lots of ways you can get involved with litter picking through initiatives run by Clean Cornwall, BeachCare, Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against sewage.