The Environment Agency is taking to the streets of Lyme Regis, checking for signs of pollution.
The Agency will carry out a detailed inspection of the town’s drains in the bid to pinpoint possible sources of pollution including misconnections that might be impacting on bathing water quality in Lyme Regis.
Officers are walking along the river and inspecting the areas around Combined Sewer Overflows and manholes for evidence of sewer leaks and misconnections and take water samples. Staff will also examine the culverted section in town to check for sewage problems.
Misconnections range from domestic washing machines mistakenly plumbed into surface water drains to factories, restaurants, hotels and schools discharging sewage into surface water systems instead of sewers.
Environment Agency staff from Blandford have recently completed a survey of pigeon roosting locations and water quality in the River Lim in Lyme Regis as part of the same pollution investigation effort.
In addition, South West Water recently did some misconnection work in Uplyme, just upstream of Lyme Regis.
‘This investigation work provides an excellent opportunity for us to identify, trace and stop pollution from a variety of sources. Misconnections are often difficult to pinpoint and can remain hidden for years,’ said Doug Parker for the Environment Agency.
‘Once a misconnection is discovered we work with other agencies including water companies, local authorities, businesses and private homeowners to put it right. Each solved misconnection helps improve water quality in our rivers and streams as well as bathing waters and is great news for the environment,’ said Doug Parker.
A partnership of the Environment Agency, South West Water and West Dorset District Council are working to find and remove pollution sources in the town. This follows similar pollution investigations in Torbay, Truro, Newton Abbot and Plymouth.
Residents and businesses can help improve the local bathing water quality too by checking their own properties to see if the drains are connected up correctly.
There is a simple checklist that people can use to do this on www.connectright.org.uk.or they can contact their local district council or visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/pollution for help and advice.
Residents and businesses can also help by supporting the local community Litter Free Coast and Sea Campaign. Matilda Bark, Litter Free Coast and Sea Coordinator, said: ‘ Little actions like not flushing wet wipes and sanitary items down the toilet or not pouring cooking fat down the sink can really help improve local bathing water quality. Even putting dog mess in the bin at the beach can help because it is very high in bacteria.’
Find out more about the Litter Free Coast and Sea campaign at: http://www.dorsetforyou.com/litter-free-coast
The Environment Agency is already asking for people’s views on what they think the main issues are that affect the South West’s water environment and what should be done to improve and protect it. The ‘Challenges and Choices’ consultation starts on June 22 and runs for six months until December 22, and will outline what everyone needs to do to protect and improve the water environment.
People can see the consultation information on the Environment Agency website at the following link http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/planning/140090.aspx or e-mail southwestRBD@environment-agency.gov.uk.
Councillor Mark Gage, Chair of the Town Council’s Strategy and policy Committee said, ‘The quality of water in our rivers and streams is important to the town and its residents. In addition, bathing water quality is important to our visitors and the tourist economy. Anything that the Environment Agency can do to improve water quality is great news.’
Richard Gilpin, Head of Waste Water Services for South West Water, said: ‘We recently announced that South West Water will be investing a further £0.5 million to improve bathing water quality at Lyme Regis.
‘The misconnections project will further eliminate sources of pollution and is a really good example of local organisations and the community working together to improve bathing water quality still further.’