The Environment Agency monitors and assesses bathing water quality at each designated bathing water in England & Wales annually between May and September.
Bathing water description
Eastbourne beach is a resort beach situated between the chalk cliffs of Beachy Head and Eastbourne Pier. The beach is predominantly shingle, with shallow sand flats exposed at low water. Above the beach there is a promenade, followed by the urban backdrop of Eastbourne.
Eastbourne bathing water typically achieves a high water quality standard but can be adversely effected by a storm overflow south of the bathing water sampling point which may operate when heavy rainfall overwhelms the sewerage system.
The catchment includes the majority of the town of Eastbourne and the forested chalk downlands on the western edge of the town. There is a curvetted river, the Bourne, which drains into the sea via the Crumbles Sewer two kilometres east of the bathing water. The catchment area is approximately 900 hectares.
Water quality at a bathing water is dependent upon the type and area of land (the catchment) draining to the water and the activities undertaken in that catchment.
It is the Environment Agency’s role to drive improvement of water quality at bathing waters that are at risk of failing European standards. The following sections give an indication of potential sources of pollution, conditions under which they may arise and measures put in place to improve water quality.
The installation of a long sea outfall at Langney Point in 1996 did not improve the bathing water quality at Eastbourne bathing water significantly. The Environment Agency and Eastbourne Borough Council carried out joint investigations for alternative sources of contamination. High levels of contamination were found in the vicinity of Eastbourne Pier. The Environment Agency found a leak in a sewer, which was sealed subsequently.
Working with water companies
Eastbourne sewage treatment works at Langney Point is the largest discharge in the vicinity of Eastbourne bathing water (four kilometres to the east). In 1996, primary treatment was installed and a long sea outfall was built to protect bathing water compliance. Flows from Eastbourne and Pevensey were transferred to the long sea outfall prior to the 1996 bathing season. Since then, the sewage treatment works has been upgraded.
Sewage treatment works outfalls
Discharges from sewage treatment works have improved substantially in England and Wales since the 1980s.
The majority of sewers in England and Wales are “combined sewers” and carry both sewage and surface water from roofs and drains. A storm overflow operates during heavy rainfall when the sewerage system becomes overwhelmed by the amount of surface water. The overflow prevents sewage from backing up pipes and flooding properties and gardens. An emergency overflow will only operate infrequently, for example due to pump failure or blockage in the sewerage system.
The Granville Road storm overflow is situated 30 metres south of the bathing water sampling point (see map). Discharges occur when heavy rainfall overwhelms the sewerage system. However, the storm overflows are designed not to affect bathing water compliance.
Working with Local Authorities
Heavy rain falling on pavements and roads often flows into surface water drains or highway drains, ending up in local rivers and, ultimately, the sea. The quality of bathing water may be adversely affected as a result of such events.
Following the commission of the long sea outfall at Langney Point in 1996, Eastbourne Borough Council set up a routine sampling programme to monitor the water quality around the bathing water. The area around the pier showed high levels of contamination. In 1998, Eastbourne Borough Council carried out a CCTV survey to investigate the infrastructure of the sewers in vicinity of the pier. A leaking sewer in the area was sealed in 2000.
Modern sewerage systems have two separate systems, one takes foul sewage to sewage treatment, the other takes rainwater runoff through surface water drains to rivers, lakes and the sea. Misconnections occur when waste water pipes are plumbed into surface water drains instead of the foul water sewerage system. This can give rise to pollution when the waste water is discharged directly to the environment through the surface water drain. For example, a washing machine or toilet may be incorrectly plumbed so that it discharges to the surface drain rather than the foul sewage drain.
Seaweed (macroalgae) and phytoplankton (microscopic algae) are a natural part of the marine and freshwater environment. Below we note whether these have been recorded in quantities sufficient to be a nuisance.
This bathing water does not have a history of large amounts of seaweed.
Microscopic algae (phytoplankton) increase in number at certain times of the year. This process is known as a phytoplankton bloom. This bathing water has a history of phytoplankton blooms each spring. Blooms of phytoplankton can result in the water appearing discoloured or a foam forming on the water.