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The effect of the time of sampling on the compliance of beaches in the north west UK with the EU directive on bathing water quality.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date05/1999
JournalJournal of Coastal Conservation
Journal number1
Volume5
Number of pages8
Pages51-58
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The ability of Morecambe´s three designated bathing waters to pass the EU Directive on Bathing Water Quality depends on the time of day when the sample is taken, the indicator organism tested for and whether the test uses the most strict (Guideline) or the least strict (Imperative) criteria. Morning and afternoon sampling for faecal coliforms, faecal streptococci and the pathogen Campylobacter was carried out monthly over the 1996 and 1997 bathing seasons. In the afternoons average faecal coliforms declined by 77 % in 1996 and 87 % in 1997 compared with the mornings, faecal streptococci by 79 % and 83 % and campylobacters by 66 % and 86 %. This decline in bacterial numbers between morning and afternoon was related to variations in water temperature and levels of ultraviolet radiation. All three bathing waters failed the Guideline criteria of the EU Directive on Bathing Water Quality. Using the Imperative criteria, no bathing waters passed in the mornings of either year, some passed in the afternoons of 1996 and all passed in the afternoons of 1997. The increased pass rate in 1997 coincided with improved sewage treatment, high temperatures and increased levels of sunshine. In 1997 sampling by the Environment Agency produced fewer failures than our morning sampling but more than our afternoon sampling. Their sampling was done around midday. It is suggested that where possible all sampling of EU designated bathing waters should be carried out in the early morning