A trial project is making waves in the way the quality of bathing water is recorded and how that information is presented to those thinking of taking a dip.
Launched during the baking hot weather and at the start of the school holidays, the project run by Pembrokeshire County Council aims to develop an information platform for local people, visitors and activity groups to detail the bathing quality away from Blue Flag beaches.
As an Authority, Pembrokeshire County Council is very proud to have the most Blue Flag beaches in the whole of UK, and this is testament to the fantastic water quality that we have.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the coast is blessed with these conditions and water quality can change on a regular basis
For the project, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Pollution Control Team will take up to six samples, across the period of the school summer holidays.
The team will then provide weekly information on bathing water results, framed against the EU Bathing Water Standards.
Pollution Control Lead Officer, Nathan Miles, said: “To achieve Blue Flag status, it is pretty well known that beaches must meet strict criteria on bathing water quality.
“But we understand that people like to swim right around our coast, not just at Blue Flag beaches, so we thought this trial could provide the bathing water quality information where there’s interest in open water swimming.
“The project is centred around water quality and water safety and linking up with local community councils and interested groups such as the Bluetits Chill Swimmers.
“We are looking for community partners or local councils to develop signage and noticeboards as well as use social media to provide information on water quality and safety in their area.”
Members of the Bluetits were on hand this week to launch the project as Council Pollution Technician Scott Findlay took a sample from Solva Harbour.
That sample will be analysed in the lab and the Bluetits informed of the water quality at the harbour.
Bluetits Chill Swimmers Director Sarah Mullis, said: “We as an organisation believe in giving swimmers the information and tools to increase their knowledge of their local waters in order for them to make choices and take responsibility for their own safety so that they can access all of the benefits that we know open water swimming brings.
“Up until now this has been in the form of short films on rip currents, waves, tides etc. The data that has already come from this water testing scheme, and talking to Scott about what affects the readings has been fascinating, and we are learning new things about the water we swim in every day.
“We intend to share this knowledge with our community of 15,000 Bluetits, so this scheme won’t just help Solva Bluetits, but those worldwide to be aware of what may affect the quality of the waters that mean so much to us.”
Cllr Mark Carter, County Councillor for Solva added: “It is great to see this initiative between PCC and the community of Solva that gives local and visiting open water swimmers the information and confidence to make the most of the beautiful area that is Solva harbour.”
Bruce Payne, Clerk of Solva Community Council said water is the driving force of nature and Solva’s bathing water is precious and must be protected.
He added: “The water testing scheme is very important to the community council. It helps safeguard the water quality for everyone.
“Water sports is also a vital component of village and harbour life. We care about our shared harbour environment and want everyone to be safe and to enjoy the clean seawater of Solva.”