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Sea water difference at resort beach

PUBLISHED: 16:36 25 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:08 03 March 2010

WATER difference nature can make!

It used to be the old complaint that the sea washing on to Felixstowe's beaches was too dirty to swim in.

It looked horrible and murky, and raw sewage was pumped straight into it, just 700 yards offshore.

WATER difference nature can make!

It used to be the old complaint that the sea washing on to Felixstowe's beaches was too dirty to swim in.

It looked horrible and murky, and raw sewage was pumped straight into it, just 700 yards offshore.

Yes, there were even times when things bobbed and swam towards you that were . . . well, they were not other swimmers and they were not very nice.

But that's all history now.

The resort's sea has been clean of sewage bacteria for three years, its beaches have a European Blue Flag and Seaside Awards for their cleanliness and facilities for visitors.

And this year there is even more joy, because the sea actually looks cleaner and bluer than for several seasons.

People who have been enjoying themselves on the shore, making sandcastles, swimming and sunbathing, have noticed how clear the water lapping on to the sand and shingle is this summer.

Not only is it cleaner, it looks the part, too.

But the experts are baffled as to why the sea should look any different this year to others.

The £15 million Anglian Water Clearwater project which provided the town with a new biological sewage treatment works certainly made the sea more than 35 times cleaner than it had been since the middle of the 19th century.

But much of the material which the scheme eradicated could not be seen anyway – bacteria was invisible and the sewage solids only came back onshore when the weather and sea conditions conspired.

The North Sea has a reputation for being murky and divers who have explored the ruins of the Roman shore fort at The Dip, Old Felixstowe, have reported that just 40 yards off the beach it can be impossible just a few feet down to see your hand in front of your face.

It often looks battleship grey even in summer, or an unwholesome green. But the colour of the sea is due to the quality of sunlight, cloud cover and other atmospheric conditions, which make it that sparkling and shimmering blue.

Those who have reported the cleaner water have mainly noticed the phenomenon on the East Beach in Undercliff Road East.

This area has seen new sea defences constructed, including wishbone-shaped reefs and rock groynes and it could be the effect of these structures on the condition of the water.

The groynes and reefs sap the strength of the waves and may have reduced the scour tides which usually wash ashore old tins and other rubbish littering the seabed. The scour tides also stir up material from the seabed and make the water murky and discoloured but without them it would appear cleaner.

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