I give a cautious welcome to the recent bathing water quality report and news which states that Helen's Bay and Crawfordsburn Beaches meet European Standards. I am however critical of NI Water after Ballyholme Beach failed to meet the mandatory requirements for the EC's Bathing Water Directive.
Whilst it's good news that Helen's Bay and Crawfordsburn Beaches have been given the green light only a few months ago did I uncover raw sewage in the sea near both beaches. This pollution on 16 August 2010 had been caused by NI Water when their combined sewer overflow near Carnalea Golf Club failed.
Whilst the report may give the beaches a green light it's apparent that the beach isn't sewage free all year round and action is still required. NI Water need to clean up their act. More regular water testing of bathing waters is also required with much more prompt responses when pollution occurs. Two days after the pollution on Monday 16 August 2010 NI Environment Agency only carried out a visual inspection. We had to wait until the Friday before a water sample was taken.
The standard of bathing waters in Ballyholme is a disgrace. Investment urgently needs to be made by NI Water to ensure the water is clean and people can safely bathe when visiting the beach.
In order to grow our economy, encourage tourists and provide good leisure opportunities it's important that North Down is clean and green. For far too long the people of North Down have had to cope with dirty bathing waters. Enough is enough.