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Council hosts meeting to discuss water quality

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has brought together key parties to help address issues with water quality at Watch House Bay

  • Friday, 15 March 2024

    Vale of Glamorgan

Representatives of Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Dwr Cymru and local swimming groups met to discuss this matter following the installation of signs indicating the ‘poor’ water classification the beach received last year.


A similar meeting is also planned at Ogmore-by-Sea after NRW testing resulted in water there being given the same rating.


Chaired by Miles Punter, the Council’s Director of Environment and Housing, the meeting saw representatives of Shared Regulatory Services, which carries out health and safety work for the Council, and the Authority’s Neighbourhood Services Team address those in attendance.


They included members of Watchtower Waders, Barry Blue Tits, Cold Knap (Rhondda) Lifeguard Club, Surfers Against Sewage, Rhoose Lifeguards, Rhwster Bluelips, Island SUP and Whitmore Bay Surf Lifesaving Club.


The situation was explained and information provided on plans to improve water quality at these locations.


Investigations are being undertaken by NRW, in partnership with Dwr Cymru and the Council, to establish the cause of the pollution.

This could be coming from a range of sources, including agricultural land, urban activity, private cess pits, septic tanks or treatment plants. 

Once the source has been identified, NRW will be able to work with those responsible to address the issue and improve water quality.

Mr Punter said: “The Council is not responsible for maintaining water quality at beaches, but we do want everyone to enjoy these locations so the results for Watch House Bay and Ogmore are very disappointing.

“They mean we are legally responsible to install signs advising people of their ‘poor’ categorisation.

“However, this is not a situation we are happy with. Bathing waters play an important role in people’s health and wellbeing, in boosting the economy and supporting wildlife.

“Many locations in the Vale have bathing water rated as ‘excellent’ and this is the standard we want everywhere.

“We have been working with NRW and Dwr Cymru towards that aim. Hopefully, by bringing everyone together like this, we can find a way to make the necessary improvements as soon as possible.”

Watch house bay pictureWhere a designated bathing water is classified as ‘poor’ under the Bathing Water Regulations 2013, there is a requirement that the Council issue guidance against bathing at that beach.

Advice against bathing signs have been installed at both Watch House Bay and Ogmore-by-sea beach for 2024. However, the beaches remain open for people to enjoy.

Alison Woolcock, Founder Member of Watchtower Waders, said: “The Waders appreciated that the Vale Council, Dwr Cymru and Natural Resources Wales were able to demonstrate the importance they have placed on improving the quality of the water at Watchtower and the other beaches in the Vale.

“We look forward to further meetings to see the progress and welcome a future whereby Watch House has a positive rating so all the community feel safe and secure to use the beaches and water.   

“Whilst we understand as a group that the Vale Council cannot recommend swimming at Watchtower due to lasts year’s poor readings, we will continue to swim but will use the useful apps provided by Dwr Cymru and Natural Resources Wales to make it as safe as possible. 

“We were really pleased to see the representatives from so many groups who use the waters present as it shows just how important the water is to us for our health, wellbeing and community.”

The Council’s Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee will consider a report detailing the water quality of all bathing beaches in the Vale on April 16.

NRW and Dwr Cymru representatives will be at that meeting, with members of the public also able to participate.

More information on the water classifications can be found online.