A bathing water quality website that will flag up problems with sewage has gone live, ready for the start of the bathing water season on May 15.
From today, the BeachLive will feature 45 Blue Flag and popular beaches across the region, with live water quality updates from 40.
On it's launch day the site was already warning beachgoers of a sewage overflowat Mawgan Porth, that "may be affecting bathing water quality".
Launched in 2011 in partnership with the Environment Agency, Surfers Against Sewage, tourism leaders and beach managers, BeachLive gives users bathing water quality information based on monitoring data from South West Water’s sewerage network until the end of the official bathing season in September.
Stephen Bird, South West Water’s operations director, said: “The South West now has some of the cleanest bathing waters in Europe following our £2billion investment programme which helped to transform the fortunes of the region’s tourist industry. We want to help to keep standards high which is why we are spending up to £20million this year to deliver even cleaner seas at seven bathing waters in Devon and Cornwall. This will help to boost local tourism and meet new European Union bathing water standards which are due to take effect in 2015.
“Based on prevailing water conditions near our overflows, BeachLive gives beach users information they can use to make an informed decision on whether to swim or surf.”
Blue flags are posted on the BeachLive website when there is no risk to water quality from the operation of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the sewerage system.
When significant overflows occur – normally during or after very heavy rain – ‘amber’ updates are posted on the site and beach operators are notified by email or SMS texts.
Amber flags are removed when there have been no further significant overflows over the next 12 hours. These triggers are based on Environment Agency data and have been agreed by "all partners".
A ‘red flag’ indicates when a beach has been closed due to other circumstances, such as particularly dangerous currents or an oil spill.
The site also features surf, tide and weather forecasts plus information about beach facilities, bathing water quality awards and how the public can do their bit to avoid pollution through responsible waste disposal.
A planned upgrade to the website, including featuring more of the region’s beaches, will be introduced this summer.