A coast to boast about
Yorkshire has some of the most beautiful and dramatic coastlines in the country and some of the busiest seaside towns. Yorkshire Water know that thriving coastal resorts rely on clean bathing water, that's why our Blueprint for Yorkshire sets out a clear plan for the coastline.
Our work on the coast
During the period 2010 - 2015 we allocated £110 million to help create some of the best beaches and cleanest bathing water in Europe. By working together in partnership with other organisations we aimed to secure the highest possible water quality standard at Yorkshire's 19 designated bathing beaches. Bathing water quality in the region is already very high, but new European standards are raising the bar.
Thanks to our Blueprint for Yorkshire we have a plan that will help us meet these excellent standards.
See below to learn more some of our coastal projects and get ideas your next trip to the coast.
You can also get more inspiration from Welcome to Yorkshire
Watch the video to find out more about the work we're doing on Yorkshire's coast.
A partnership approach
Six organisations came together to give our beaches the best chance possible of achieving the new 'Excellent' standard. We shared expertise and local knowledge as no one organisation could achieve all the required improvements alone. This is why a partnership approach was essential.
Why did we do this?
The quality of sea water at officially designated bathing beaches is monitored and measured each and every year. For over 30 years the European Bathing Water Directive has set the standards for these bathing waters and has driven huge improvements in water quality.
Until 2014, bathing waters could achieve one of two possible quality levels:
Mandatory (required standard for a beach to 'pass' the current directive)
Guideline (the highest possible current level)
The original directive however needed updating to recognise big developments in scientific understanding. That's why the 'revised Bathing Water Directive' was agreed. This new directive sets much higher water quality standards, has different measuring criteria and puts more emphasis on information available to the public. Quality standards for the revised directive will be reported from 2015 onwards.
Under the revised directive bathing waters will be classed as one of four different levels:
Excellent, Good, Sufficient, Poor
How can you help?
There's plenty of ways that you can help clear up the coast and make sure that our seas stay clean.
1. Check your plumbing
Wrongly connected plumbing in homes and businesses can result in dirty water getting into the sea. This can come from toilets, washing machines and dishwashers being wrongly connected to the surface water drain. It might flow into a stream or a river first, which then flows onto a beach. Check you're plumbing is right by following advice from the Connect Right website.
2. Look after your drains
Drains can be blocked by fats and oils, or by nappies and wipes. When they're blocked they can overflow into the street and streams which then flow into the bathing water. Make sure you look after your drains by collecting fats and throw them in the bin.
3. Dog Fouling
There's lots of bacteria in dog poo, so make sure you bag-it and bin-it - don't leave it on the beach. Watch out for dog bans in the summer which are in-force at a number of Yorkshire's beaches - keep your dogs in the designated areas.
For further information on how you can help minimise any impact on bathing water quality, read our guide on keeping our bathing waters clean.
Managing storm water
What is a combined sewer overflow (CSO)?
The majority of the UK's sewerage systems are made up of combined sewers. Combined sewers carry both foul water from homes and businesses as well as rain water which falls onto paved areas and roofs. Usually waste water in sewers travels to one of our waste water treatment works to be treated before its put back into rivers or the sea. During significant rainfall however we need CSOs in order to reduce the pressure on sewers. They act as essential relief valves, diverting heavily diluted storm water into rivers or the sea and, in turn, can prevent flooding to properties and roads. These relief valves are called Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and are licensed by the Environment Agency.
How do CSOs work on the coast?
We have 56 CSOs on the coast which can operate at times of significant rainfall. Some can overflow at or near beaches and some flow into nearby watercourses. Many of these overflows connect to long pipes, called outfalls, which extend hundreds of meters into the sea.
We have recently invested £110 million to help reduce the chance of overflows from CSOs, constructing many underground tanks which can temporarily store large volumes of storm water, reducing pressure on the sewers. These play an important role by capturing the first flush of storm water from the sewers which tends to be the most concentrated.
Can CSOs affect the quality of sea water?
Since CSOs should only operate during times of significant rainfall, any storm water released from them will be very dilute because of the large volumes of rain water within the system. Also, as soon as it enters the sea the water will be diluted even further and any bacteria will start to be destroyed by natural processes. All CSOs are fitted with screens that help remove debris.
The average quality of sea water at Yorkshire's beaches is closely monitored and measured by the Environment Agency with hundreds of sea water samples taken each year. They are already among the cleanest beaches in the UK and are set to become even cleaner due to our investment. You can find out more about bathing water quality and Yorkshire Water CSO locations at specific beaches from the EA website, visit http://environment.data.gov.uk/bwq/profiles for more information
Can I find out when a CSO overflows near me?
We believe in providing people with information which can help them make informed choices about when to go in the sea. That's why we're working with the environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to provide a real-time notifications service. This service lets people know by text message or online when certain coastal CSOs overflow.
Visit http://www.sas.org.uk/map for more information.