Bathing water quality
We have some beautiful coastline along the Solway Firth and we help to keep it as clean as possible. With the rain we can get, and the high levels of farming, this is not always easy. However, there is a lot of work to improve water quality on our beaches and you can help too.
The bathing water season is usually from May 15 to September 30.
We must provide information about the bathing waters, including warnings where there is a risk to health due to pollution. We work closely with United Utilities and the Environment Agency.
Water quality levels
The Environment Agency has an interactive website on bathing water quality in England .
The latest water quality levels for our area were: Allonby - Good
Updated bathing water data
The Environment Agency widget below is automatically updated with new data during the bathing water season.
Helping to improve water quality - Turning Tides
Bathing water is affected by a number of different sources. Fat or sanitary products flushed down drains can block the system meaning untreated sewage goes straight into the sea. You can help by:
- putting litter in the bin
- picking up your dog’s excrement and disposing of it in the bin
- thinking about what you’re flushing down the toilet and pouring down the sink – keep it to “pee, poo and paper”
- sign up to environmental campaigns and join local beach-cleaning events. Other clean up events are available online: Keep Britain Tidy.
The Council is part of the Turning Tides partnership. This is a partnership of organisations working together in North West England to improve the quality of our bathing waters. This is achieved through: infrastructure, planning, educating, volunteering, campaigning to make sure everyone can enjoy our beaches today and for future generations to come.
Further information on the Solway Firth Partnership that supports the local economy to protect and celebrate the natural heritage of this coastal area is available online at: Solway Firth Partnership.
Tips to reduce potential risks from bathing waters:
- Observe local beach safety advice.
- Do not swallow sea water or water from beach streams.
- Try not to splash sea or stream water into your mouth.
- Always wash hands using soap and water and ensure all wet sand is removed from hands before eating.
- More information on water safety is available online: RNLI and RLSS UK .
Algal blooms on lakes, rivers and canals
Public open waters such as canals, rivers and ponds are dealt with by the Environment Agency.
The most common problem are reports of (Blue Green) Algae in lakes and ponds which are dealt with by the Environment Agency .
Please observe any signs warning of algal growth and advising not to swim in the water.
We are responsible for dealing with algae occurring on land owned by us.
Latest advice on Blue Green Algae from the Environment Agency
- Advice for the public and landowners can be found on gov.uk
- Environment Agency urges members of the public and their pets/dogs to be cautious of blue green algae in lakes and rivers.
- Blue Green Algae is a naturally occurring environmental phenomenon that becomes more likely during periods of warm, settled, dry weather but can also form after periods of heavy rain.
- Water bodies affected by blue green algae, or algal blooms may be green, blue green or greenish brown and can produce musty, earthy or grassy odours. Blooms can also cause foaming on the shoreline, which can sometimes be confused with sewage pollution. During a bloom, the water also becomes less clear, blocking sunlight and can slow down plant growth in water.
- Blue-green algal blooms are nothing new, as reports date back to the 12th Century. However, in the Lake District, lakes such as Derwentwater and Ullswater have not had reported blooms for several years, in fact, prior to 2018, a bloom hadn’t been confirmed on Ullswater since 1999!
- The Environment Agency is working with key partners as part of a multi-agency response to address the causes of Blue green algae
- If you suspect Blue Green Algae please contact the Environment Agency’s 24 hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60 so that we can inform relevant landowners and ask them to take the necessary steps to warn the public of potential dangers or report via the CEH’s Bloomin’ Algae App.
- The algae poses a small risk to human health if a person comes into direct contact with it. It can however pose a serious risk to animals such as dogs if they drink or swim in affected water
- Blue green algae can cause stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhoea, and skin rashes though the risk to people is relatively small. Animals such as dogs can, however, be more seriously affected and we would urge dog owners to keep their pets out of the water if they suspect that blue green algae may be present.
- You can’t tell if an algal bloom in the sea, a lake or river is toxic just by looking at it, so it’s safest to assume it is. You should keep pets and children away from the water and avoid skin contact with the water or algae.
- Once an algal bloom is confirmed, information is sent to encourage landowners and other statutory bodies to display signs warning members of the public of the presence of potentially toxic blue-green algae. Blue green algal blooms can cause foaming on shorelines, turn water blue-green or greenish brown and may produce musty, earthy or grassy odours.
- As algal blooms are naturally occurring and require the right conditions to form, there are no quick and easy solutions for reducing their occurrence.
- The Environment Agency issues and monitors discharge permits throughout the country which contain strict limits on phosphorus concentrations discharged to the environment.
- We also work with water companies to ensure that their activities are compliant with their discharge permits as well as advising them on any improvements that they may wish to make. Over the last twenty years there’s been huge progress in enhancing the water environment thanks to tougher regulation and years of hard work, and there is ongoing work to maintain water quality and improve it even further.