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Poor beach water quality is found at Newcastle

Bathing water quality at Newcastle plunged below European standards earlier this summer.

Poor water quality was reported at the beach on June 28 and July 24, but Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the pollution incidents were shortlived and probably related to heavy rainfall.

Repeat samples taken within 24 hours of each failure were shown to meet the required standard, he said.

Both sample failures are likely to be due to the heavy rainfall experienced this summer falling onto already saturated ground, causing polluting run-off from land and discharges from storm drains and sewer overflows |to enter the sea, Mr Attwood said.

Drainage outfalls to the sea play an important role in reducing flood risk in towns and cities, and it is important we manage their impact on the environment, he said.

“Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) is well aware of the intermittent failures in bathing water quality at Newcastle. The bathing water was designated as sensitive under Annex IIAc of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive in July 2006,” he said.

“As a result of this designation, Northern Ireland Water (NIW) are currently upgrading the Waste Water Treatment Works to provide bacterial reduction of the effluent during the bathing water season. The network is also being upgraded to further protect the bathing water. Work is scheduled for completion in 2013.

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“Our coastline is an asset for everyone to enjoy and which plays an important role in the economy, particularly in seaside resorts like Newcastle. I am determined that all reasonable steps will be taken to minimise health risks to the public. Newcastle will remain a priority issue now until resolved and will again be on the agenda of the late summer beach summit.”

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