St Mary’s Bay on Romney Marsh beach has been hit with a year-long “do not swim” warning after the discovery of unsafe levels of bacteria in the water.
The quality of the seawater has deteriorated in recent years and monitoring by the Environment Agency (EA) has revealed heightened traces of intestinal enterococci, which is found in faecal matter.
The EA has placed signs in the area advising visitors not to swim in the sea and they have confirmed that these will remain in place for the 2023 bathing season.
The EA is now working with other agencies to try to establish what has caused the spike in bacteria in the coastal waters which are popular with tourists during the summer months. Officers investigating the pollution are checking possible sources and the routes through which this pollution may have found its way into the water.
Local businesses are highly reliant on the trade done from beachgoers
Locals and campaigners will be keeping a close eye on the results of the tests. If the tests come back showing that recent sewage releases are the cause, then there will be calls for criminal charges against water company executives.
It is unacceptable that our coastal areas have been allowed to get into such a state that it is unsafe for people to enter the sea. The situation needs to change, although sadly the damage has now been done.