Warning that beaches including Weston-super-Mare and Blackpool may not hit new EU regulations
Dozens of beaches are at risk of failing tough new standards for water quality, the Environment Agency said as it launched its summer monitoring programme.
They include beaches at resorts such as Weston-super-Mare and Blackpool, which are hugely popular with people from the West Midlands.
From next year, more stringent European Union regulations will be brought in for bathing spots around England, and the agency is warning that around 40 beaches are on track to fail if action is not taken to tackle pollution ending up in the sea.
They also include Scarborough South Bay, Lyme Regis Church Cliff beach, Southend Jubilee beach, Ilfracombe Wildersmouth and Morecambe and Walney.
If beaches fail on water quality standards under the EU rules, local authorities will have to display a sign advising against swimming.
More than 400 beaches will be tested weekly between now and September, with a total of 8,400 samples taken, and the Environment Agency said nine out of 10 swimming spots were already meeting the new standards.
But there were still areas where pollution was a problem, caused by agricultural run-off, sewage overflows, animal and bird faeces on beaches and households and businesses with badly-connected drains, the agency said.
In some areas as many as one in five houses have their drains misconnected, which means sewage is being accidentally flushed into rivers and ending up on beaches.
Water companies, local authorities and the Environment Agency were working to sort out the problem.
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Resorts at risk of failing tough new water quality targets