Encouraging improvements in water quality at Leigh Bell Wharf

Published Friday, 24th May 2019

View of LEigh seafront with Bouy

New water quality tests carried at Leigh Bell Wharf are showing continued improvement, with only very low levels of bacteria detected in the latest results.

Earlier this month, signs advising visitors against bathing were erected on the beach after average water sample results from the previous four years saw the bathing water quality reclassified from “sufficient” to “poor”. However, water sampling carried out this month have shown continued improvement.

Cllr Alex Bright, cabinet member for the environment at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “Residents and visitors have understandably been concerned to see signs advising against bathing erected at Leigh beach.

“It is important to remember that these are placed based on historic water testing. Testing is now being carried out each month and, now that we are in the bathing season, it is very encouraging to see the results for May continue the trend of improvement, with only very low levels of bacteria detected.

“We continue to work with the Environment Agency and Anglian Water to investigate and put right any misconnected pipes from homes and businesses that may be sending waste to the wrong sewer. We’re also continuing to seek out any other reasons why pockets of contamination have happened in the past and prevent them in the future. It appears that this work is paying dividends.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “The sample results from the previous four years are used to make the overall classification, which is used to inform the signage, and is a requirement of the Bathing water Directive.

“Some of the results over the last 4 years have highlighted bacterial contamination. Sampling started in May and so far we have detected very low levels of bacteria, which is good news. 

“The results at Leigh Bell Wharf appear to be improving, but monitoring will continue over the summer, including any work to identify and stop any sources of contamination. The results from this summer’s sampling will be used to update the classification, which will be announced at the end of the season.”

The latest sampling figures, along with the last 4 years results can be viewed on the Environment Agency website.

The actual results this year are as follows for E. Coli and Intestinal Enterococci (IE). The results are for “colony forming unites detected per 100ml.

3rd May - E. coli - 36, IE - <10

16th May - E. coli - <10, IE - <10

The “poor” bathing water standard is above 185 cfu/100ml for Intestinal enterococci (IE) or >500 cfu*/100ml for Escherichia Coli (E-coli) based on the 90 percentile of 4 year of samples

*cfu – Colony forming units.