Climate change threatens sea quality

GROWING numbers of heavy storms could cause pollution of the award-winning clean sea off Suffolk, experts warned today.

GROWING numbers of heavy storms could cause pollution of the award-winning clean sea off Suffolk, experts warned today.

Beaches at Felixstowe, Lowestoft, and Southwold have won not only international Blue Flags but also places in this summer's Good Beach Guide for their excellent bathing water quality and shoreside facilities.

But experts say storm-related pollution, driven by climate change, is now a serious threat to coastal waters, including Felixstowe.

Sudden heavy downpours are sending more dirty water from roads into surface water drains which run into the sea, or fertilisers, pesticides and soil off fields into ditches, streams and rivers which lead to the sea.

Some beaches which have constantly passed the highest tests for quality could see failings in extreme conditions with climate change forecast to bring warmer, wetter winters and summers punctuated by violent storms and flash floods.

Marine Conservation Society coastal pollution officer Thomas Bell said the change will substantially increase the pollution pressures along the coast.

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He said: “Waterborne pollutants such as raw sewage, petro-chemicals and farm waste by-pass the sewer system and sweep directly from the land into rivers and the sea.”

“This effect was particularly apparent across the UK during summer 2004 and throughout last winter. It's a serious problem that we believe will worsen in years to come.”

Felixstowe has seen huge improvements to its water quality in the past decade following a multi-million pound Anglian Water project to build a new sewage treatment works to stop raw sewage being pumped out to sea.

It has surface water pipes on its beaches which occasionally emit an overflow from the road drains, but Anglian Water said the system is adequate for normal conditions.

A spokesman said: “Because we have set and reached such high standards we are beginning to see the impact of other sources of diffuse sources of pollution - the run off from field and roads - which can put a spanner in the works, and these are not within our control.”

The Environment Agency said “Diffuse pollution tends to arise from sites not directly regulated by the Environment Agency. “However, we can only continue to make water quality improvements by addressing diffuse pollution issues and by adopting innovative ways of controlling the risks from diffuse sources.”

N What do you think of Felixstowe's beaches and what can be done to tackle climate change? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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