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Evaluation of the impact on compliance with the revised Bathing Waters Quality Standards at Whitburn and Roker beaches - WT1551

To evaluate the impact on compliance with the revised Bathing Waters Quality Standards at Whitburn and Roker beaches. The work would assess the impact of diverting surface water flows currently accepted by a sewer to two nearby watercourses. Both watercourses flow across an area of sand before entering the North Sea where there is the potential to impact adversely on bathing waters.

In October 2012 a judgment by the European Court found in favour of the European Commission that the UK is in breach of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive at Whitburn. The UK is required to ensure compliance with the judgment within a reasonable period to avoid the Commission taking further infraction action against the UK (i.e. returning to the Court for a fines judgment). As a result, Northumbria Water is currently looking into a variety of options to reduce spill frequency at an intermittent overflow at Whitburn Long Sea Outfall (LSO).

One option is to remove surface water from the sewerage system. If this option is to be pursued, we need to ensure that that a diversion of flow from the sewer would not adversely affect current bathing water quality. As such the Environment Agency are requesting Intertek Consultancy to conduct the necessary work to assess the risk to bathing water quality in the area.

It is intended that the work will be a short study and begin when the options from the Northumbrian Water work are fully evaluated. This work is on track to produce recommendations for early 2014 The results from this study will form part of a package of supporting information from the Environment Agency to Defra with recommendations in early 2014 on how to reduce spills from the Whitburn LSO. Defra is meeting the Commission to discuss progress at the end of January 2014. Before pursuing a particular course of action to reduce spills (i.e removal of surface water from the sewerage system and/or providing additional storage capacity within the system, Defra would want to be fully aware of the potential wider impacts on the environment (e.g. bathing water quality).
This study will use a calibrated and validated mathematical model of the local area to investigate the potential impacts from the change that the diversion of surface water flows would have on bathing water quality. The model to be used will be the Northumbrian Coastal Modelling System (NCMS), a model developed for Northumbrian Water Limited (NWL) for the purposes of bacterial and water quality modelling. The assessment methods have been previously established and agreed with NWL and the Environment Agency for previous investigations, notably for producing a 2010 study to support the UK defence of infraction proceedings.

For the assessment, impacts at the two closest European Commission(EC) designated Bathing Waters – Seaburn and Roker – will be assessed. Other Bathing Waters are considered too remote to observe.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2014

To: 2014

Cost: £6,550
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Environment Agency
Bathing Water