Two award-winning Isle of Wight beaches have been chosen to be part of a major Environment Agency pilot scheme.
The project is aimed at improving the monitoring of water quality and how the public is then informed.
The pilot scheme, which will involve Cowes and Shanklin beaches and 30 other beaches countrywide, predicts when so called ‘short term’ pollution may occur in bathing waters.
Short-term pollution, which lasts no more than 72 hours, has clear causes such as rainfall or water run-off into the sea and can be predicted to affect the quality of bathing water.
Predictions are based on rainfall measurements and are very similar to weather forecasts. Should there be a chance of short term pollution occurring, warning signs are then put up at the beach.
People using the beaches at Cowes and Shanklin will then be able to see when the water quality is likely to be lower than normal.
By 2015, all Island beaches will face tougher standards for water quality, due to the revised European bathing water standards.
If successful, the new scheme will be extended to other bathing areas during the 2014 season.
Councillor Shirley Smart, cabinet member for tourism and economy, said:
“We are very proud of our beaches which are among the best in the country and a major attraction for visitors and residents alike.
“Telling people about the times a deterioration in water quality may happen underlines the council’s commitment to keeping the public safe and that we are acting responsibly to monitor any change to our sea water quality.”
In May, 13 beaches maintained by the Isle of Wight Council won four Blue Flags and 13 Seaside Awards. The total of 17 awards means the Isle of Wight is number one in the country for the amount of award-winning beaches.
More information is at www.environment-agency.co.uk
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