Gull, dog, and human faeces all among South Bay pollutants

SCIENTISTS using DNA profiling have failed to identify one single pollutant responsible for Scarborough South Bay's failed water cleanliness tests - with fouling by seagulls, dogs and humans among the causes.

Scarborough South Bay
Picture:  Richard Ponter
Scarborough South Bay Picture: Richard Ponter

Last year, the South Bay’s water failed to meet even minimum standards for water quality, being awarded a zero rating.

A long-awaited report by the National Laboratory Service (NLS) makes clear that a number of factors are responsible for pollution in the bathing water, and that industrial effluent - thought by some to have had a major impact on pollution, was only an influence in South Bay “occasionally”.

Jonathan Porter, of the NLS’s environment planning team, said in the report: “The data gives strong evidence that pollution from sources other than the industrial effluent are present in South Bay. The other pollution sources are human, seabird and dog - typically a combination of these sources contribute to the total pollution.”

The report said micro-biological water quality at Scarborough South Bay is “cause for concern”.

It said: “Data over the last four years suggest water quality is variable over time, with occasional peaks in micro-biological contamination. Multiple possible causes of bacteria could affect the water quality.”

Scarborough Council triggered the report due to concerns that below par quality of water samples taken in the South Bay bathing areas could affect the resort’s standing in new EU Blue Flag regulations and standards.

The authority already has a ban on dogs using the beach in the main holiday period from April to October, and has implemented a range of measures to control gull populations.

In concluding the report, Mr Porter said it was “unlikely either human or seabird faecal pollution alone” was considered the sole source of pollutants, and that pollution from dogs could account for the bacterial concentrations measured at the South Bay sampling point.

“However, overall, it seems most likely that multiple sources of pollution all contribute to the issue,” he added.

A spokesperson for the Yorkshire Bathing Water Partnership, which is made up of local authorities including Scarborough Borough Council, the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water said it is committed to ensuring that the bathing water quality “improves significantly” in the future.

“The data suggests that no single factor is responsible for lowering the bathing water quality,” she said. “The partnership will now use the data in the report as a basis for an action plan aimed at driving forward improvements and achieving real differences across Scarborough for the benefit of the local community and the many thousands of people that visit every year.”