Called ‘Love Your Beach’, the event to highlight recent improvements in bathing water quality at Combe Martin and celebrate work carried out by The Environment Agency, South West Water and the local community to ensure the local beach meets tough new bathing water standards coming into force next year.
The event will take place next Friday (June 13) at Combe Martin Museum and will feature a series of displays and activities including beach safaris, rock pool rambles, a beach clean and photo competition.
Combe Martin has gone from being one of the 10 worst bathing waters in the country in 2011 to being Recommended in the 2013 Good Beach Guide. The improvements are the result of detailed investigations by the Environment Agency followed by a programme of actions by its partners including North Devon District Council, Combe Martin parish council, local residents and landowners.
In addition, South West Water has spent £80,000 improving local sewers and is investing a further £2 million on improvements to three combined sewer overflows (CSOs) which discharge to the River Umber and can have a significant effect on bathing water quality.
Local landowners have helped by installing 8.5km of livestock fencing and replacing farmyard dirty water systems. Further improvements have been achieved by tracing and repairing local misconnections that were impacting on bathing water quality.
Combe Martin has its own Bathing Water Quality Group that has campaigned for water quality improvements for a number of years and has helped organise next Friday’s ‘Love Your Beach’ event that will run from 11.00 to 3.00pm.
The parish council has provided support by introducing dog control orders on Combe Martin beach to help safeguard bathing water quality and ensure the resort meets the revised European Bathing Water Directive.
The new standards, being introduced next year, are twice as strict as current system. From 2015 there will be four bathing water classifications: Excellent, Good, Sufficient and Poor.
Combe Martin met the current higher Guideline standard for the first time ever in 2013 If the latest improvements can be maintained, the local beach will probably be classed as Sufficient or even Good under the revised Bathing Water Directive.
Robin Pearson for the Environment Agency said:
The improvements at Combe Martin are all the more impressive given the very wet summer in 2012 when despite the unfavourable conditions, there was an eight-fold reduction in bacterial contamination of the local bathing water.