Campaigners seeking to make a Suffolk river safe for swimming believe the latest findings of high levels of pollution could help support their application for special bathing status.

Save the Deben is set to make a second application for designated bathing water status for the river Deben at Woodbridge, but latest data from water company Anglian Water has shown levels of bacteria far higher than that required for the status to be granted.

READ MORE: Therese Coffey visits Martlesham Creek over water quality

At their highest, levels measured at the outflow for Martlesham treatment plant on the river Deben reached 640,000 colony forming units (CFU) per 100ml of water, but the limit for bathing status is just 900CFU per 100ml of water.

East Anglian Daily Times: A second application for designated bathing status is set to be submitted for the river Deben at WoodbridgeA second application for designated bathing status is set to be submitted for the river Deben at Woodbridge (Image: Archant)

Former Woodbridge mayor Eamonn O'Nolan, who is a representative of Woodbridge Climate Action Centre, has also conducted 'citizen science' testing at the site, which has also revealed high levels of potentially harmful E.coli bacteria in the water.

He said: "I think the findings enhance the bathing water status application because what it means is that nobody now can deny that there is a problem around the river."

READ MORE: E.coli warnings for swimmers at popular River Deben spot

And Ruth Leach, co-founder of Save the Deben with Suffolk county councillor Caroline Page, said she was seeking a meeting with Anglian Water to clarify the results and how they were obtained, while also wanting to determine the source of the E.coli.

She said: "Eamonn has worked hard to prove the presence of E.coli in the river which has given us the evidence to drive our application.

READ MORE: Woodbridge news

"So this additional evidence will only drive us harder to be successful in our application. Anglian Water is supporting us in this application."

Mr O'Nolan said Anglian Water could seek funding from the Environment Agency for a sterilisation process to clean up the pollution that is already in the river.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who is currently environment secretary, visited Martlesham with senior officials from Anglian Water and the Environment Agency to see the situation first hand.

READ MORE: Suffolk news

An Anglian Water spokesperson said: "We share our customers’ desire to make our waterways healthier. Rivers should be beautiful places, rich in nature and we know how valuable they have become for community recreation and wellbeing.

“At Anglian Water, we’re committed to playing our part in making that happen. As part of our Get River Positive programme we’ve pledged to make sure our operations will not be the reason for poor river health.

"We’re already working with local river and wild swimming groups to support plans for bathing water designation, including those on the river Deben, to help initiate consistent monitoring by the Environment Agency.

"Alongside this, we’ve been working with the River Deben Association and the Save the Deben campaign for over a year to help monitor the water quality and start planning the necessary improvements our operational activity plays in it."