Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 16TH NOVEMBER, 2011
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 4TH OCTOBER, 2011
“478 WATCH HOUSE BAY WATER QUALITY (DLPPHS) -
The report had been prepared in response to a Request for Consideration of Matter from Councillor R.F. Curtis. Councillor Curtis had requested that the Scrutiny Committee investigate why Watch House Bay had been included in the Marine Conservation Society's 2011 Failed Beach Guide and what action the Council and/or its partner agencies needed to undertake to ensure all the Vale of Glamorgan beaches passed future water quality tests.
The Principal Housing and Pollution Officer advised that designated beaches were part of the sea or inland lakes in England and Wales that had been designated by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) or the Welsh Government for people to swim in. These waters were then sampled by the Environment Agency to check the water quality and reported annually to Europe. However, it was noted that non-designated beaches did not have the same status as sampling was not a statutory requirement and Watch House Bay was identified as a non-designated beach.
However, the Council's Public Protection Division in partnership with Keep Wales Tidy undertook proactive sampling of non-designated sites in the Vale of Glamorgan in order to inform the public and published the results of these locations via the public internet site. The samples were analysed for bacteria that indicated the presence of faecal pollution derived from humans or animals, which could contain viruses, parasites and bacteria (such as E-coli) that could cause illness if the water was swallowed. Watch House Bay had been part of the sampling programme undertaken by Public Protection. A number of sampling results for the Bay in 2010 had been assessed as poor in line with EU Bathing Water Regulations. Appendix 1 to the report provided a summary of all the results for non-designated beaches sampled in the Council's area during 2010. Watch House Bay had recently been included in the Marine Conservation Society's 2011; Failed Beach Guide' as a result of the Council's sampling programme.
The officer further advised Members that the sampling programme was currently under review and would be the subject of a separate report to Cabinet in due course. Cabinet would need to consider whether a sampling programme should continue to be undertaken for non-statutory, non-designated beaches in view of budget constraints. Notwithstanding this, investigations had been undertaken to determine the cause of the faecal contamination of both public and private drainage, water courses and land drainage and these had been undertaken by the Engineering Projects, Drainage Team of Visible Services supported by the Pollution Control Team and Public Protection. There were also a number of storm sewage overflows and emergency overflows that discharged into the Bay and these were regulated by the Environment Agency via discharge consents. One of the overflows had caused concern where Council Officers had noted discharges from the Harbour Road Storm Sewage Overflow during dry weather and other periods when there had not been heavy rain. There were two water courses that discharged into the Bay, one ran through Romilly Park and another through Birch Grove Wood and alongside the rail track. Pollution control had sampled both streams on numerous occasions for bacteria indicative of sewage contamination. The microbiological results indicated that the stream running through Birch Grove Wood had e-Coli and coliforms present but not at a level to indicate a problem. However, the results from the stream through Romilly Park indicated a presence of high levels of e-Coli and coliforms indicating faecal contamination. For these results an investigation into the source of the contamination had been undertaken.
Contamination had been evident in the private drains between Old Village Road and Romilly Park Road, however CCTV surveys of the drain had failed to identify to actual source of contamination or any misconnections to enable enforcement action to be taken although the CCTV survey of the surface water drains provided evidence of fracturing due to age and root penetration. The officer advised that it was possible that a leak in a main foul sewer had found a way to the surface water pipes thus contaminating the water discharge into the stream. Investigations into the issues were still ongoing.
The report also highlighted that water sampling of the Bay in 2011 had shown the water quality as excellent in line with the EU bathing water regulations. At the time of the report the water quality in the Bay remained excellent indicating the contamination experience in 2010 had been resolved.
Having considered the report it was
(1) T H A T the reasons why the water quality at Watch House Bay failed during 2010 and the actions undertaken by the Council to address the failure at the beach be noted.
(2) T H A T the report and the minutes of the meeting be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) for consideration.
(3) T H A T the Cabinet report referred to above be also presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.
(4) T H A T the Public Protection section continue to discuss further ways of improving the current situation with Welsh Water as detailed above.
(5) T H A T in future all Councillors within the Vale of Glamorgan Council be informed immediately any failures of any of its beaches occur within the County.
(6) T H A T the above comments and recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee be referred to Cabinet for consideration.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) In view of the information contained within the report and provided at the meeting.
(2) For further consideration by the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection).
(3) In order to apprise Members.
(4) To consider further ways of improving the situation.
(5) To inform Members.
(6) For Cabinet consideration.”