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Red flag: poor water quality

Despite our best efforts, the water quality in Clevedon Marine Lake is still poor. On July 21st 2021 we took a water sample from the lake that showed a higher level of bacteria than is acceptable for bathing water. We closed the lake and drained the water from the lake so that it could be topped over with fresh water from the sea. But, on July 27th, the sample was still poor against EU bathing water standards.

Why did this happen?

Water quality drops when one of two things happen:

  1. We have a heatwave. Lots of people use the lake and the water temperature goes up.

  2. The water that fills the lake from the Bristol Channel is of poor quality. This happens when storm sewers are allowed to overflow into the sea and when rain washes farm waste off the fields and into the rivers.

In July 2021 both these things happened. First of all, we had a heatwave. Crowds flocked to the marine lake to cool off. Every human body is alive with bacteria that usually lives harmlessly on our bodies, but this washes off in the water. Add sunscreen, bait for crabs and litter, and the amount of new bacteria in the water goes up. On top of this, many feet stir up the mud at the bottom of the lake blocking the sun’s ultra-violet rays that kill bacteria. Also, the water temperature becomes too warm to kill off the bacteria.

After we drained the lake, it topped over with the sea during a pollution warning. Storm Evert brought with it heavy rain. This meant that run-off from the fields polluted the rivers that run into the sea. Water companies also opened their storm overflow sewers releasing sewage into the sea. To find out more about this issue, read here or check out Surfers Against Sewage.

Can I still swim?

The red flags at Clevedon Marine Lake are flying. This means that we don’t recommend using the lake. If you do decide to swim, kayak or paddle there, please take extra care by:

  1. hand sanitising your hands as soon as you get out of the water

  2. washing your hands as soon as possible

  3. having a shower when you get home

  4. avoiding putting your head in the water, or if you do, wearing earplugs and goggles.

If you are immuno-compromised or pregnant, please seek medical advice before you swim. Here is a good guide to keeping in good health in open water.

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