Southwold beaches see rise in water quality classification

The busy beach at Southwold in the hot weather on Thursday, June 25 Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Southwold beaches during it's busy summer bathing season - Credit: Denise Bradley

Two Suffolk beaches have seen their water quality classification upgraded - one to 'excellent' and one to 'good'. 

The Environment Agency tested over 400 sites across England in 2021 and found 99pc of them to pass water quality standards.

This is the highest pass rate since the standards were introduced in 2018.

Results for the pier at Southwold found the water to be of an 'excellent' classification, meaning the local authority can re-apply for a blue flag if it meets other criteria.

The Pier dropped from 'excellent' to 'good' in 2018 and remained there until the 2021 check.

The drop was due to the 'occasional high result' for E.coli.

The Environment Agency noted algae contamination could have been a possible cause for the E.coli found, but results were inconclusive.

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The 2021 check found no high levels of E.coli in samples.

The Denes beach in Southwold also went up in classification to 'good'.

The Environment Agency has worked with Anglian Water to improve the quality of the water at the Denes.

The water has been 'sufficient' since 2017 and has now improved to 'good'.

An investigation in 2018 found that the water had a bacterial contamination due to the Southwold Waste Water Treatment Works.

In 2019, Anglian Water began chemical dosing to disinfect the wastewater to reduce bacteria in the bathing water. This has improved water quality.

A permanent disinfection system will be completed in the sewage effluent by March 2025.

A large storm storage tank was also installed at the Waste Water Treatment Works in 2021 to reduce the frequency of storm sewage discharges.

John Daniels, senior environment officer for the Environment Agency, said: "We are thrilled that the bathing waters in Southwold are back to excellent and good. It is great to be able to work with Anglian Water and achieve these results."

Greg Hall, coastal catchment manager for Anglian Water, said: "In 2019 we invested in constructing temporary disinfection technology at Southwold Water Recycling Centre prior to any request from our regulators to help improve the bathing water quality.

"We’re the first water company in the UK to trial PFA chemical disinfection.

"This is a more cost and carbon-efficient form of disinfection compared to the traditional method of UV disinfection and is completely safe for the environment."