Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Improving coast and countryside
Most people associate Yorkshire Water with domestic supplies and waste water treatment – but the company also invests heavily in helping us enjoy our coast.
So whether taking a bath at home or splashing in the seas off Filey, the Bradford-based company plays its part in making it an enjoyable experience.
The firm is investing £110 million to help improve bathing water quality along Yorkshire’s east coast, with measures such as improving treatment facilities, reducing leaks from sewers and making efforts to reduce waste water discharge.
“This will help to boost tourism, and in turn benefit local businesses,” says company spokesman Matt Thompson.
Such a large investment in the coast should come as welcome news to customers, who placed bathing and beaches top in a survey as to where funds should be channelled.
Among the improvements, work to reduce approved discharges into the sea is being carried out. “We have approved discharge during periods when the sewer is full to capacity,” says Matt. “If we cannot cope, it releases waste water into the sea. With this investment, it is hoped to significantly reduce the times when we need to do this,” says Matt.
Storage tanks are being installed at key locations such as Marine Drive in Scarborough to cope with extra capacity.
“We are also working to reduce the number of times sewer pipes leak, and carrying out work to replace them,” says Matt.
Agricultural run-off in coastal areas is also being targeted. “That is a major form of pollution, and we will be looking at ways to alleviate this. It could be through simple steps such as putting up fences next to becks so that cattle don’t have access to them.”
And pollution from gull mess – which also impacts on water quality – is being addressed, with the company working alongside local councils.
“It is a pivotal project for us,” says Matt. “We are working with local authorities, tourism bodies and the Environment Agency. More people are choosing to holiday in the UK, and Yorkshire now has a chance to shine.”
Currently, the Yorkshire coast has five beaches with Blue Flag status – Filey, Scarborough North, Whitby West Cliff, Hornsea and Withernsea – meaning they have met 32 criteria surrounding water quality, environmental management, environmental education, safety and services.
Fifteen beaches in Yorkshire have also been given a Quality Coast Award for their high standards, including Bridlington North and South, Cayton Bay, Runswick Bay and Scarborough North and South.
Work to improve beaches and bathing water will help to meet the stringent requirements of the revised EU Bathing Water Directive which is administered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This sets the standard for water quality at popular beaches and inland bathing sites.
The Environment Agency is responsible for ensuring that bathing water reaches the ‘mandatory’ standard for water quality laid down by the EU.
“Yorkshire Water’s aspiration is that, through working in partnership, water quality is improved at all bathing beaches and that all resort beaches meet the ‘excellent’ standard under the new directive,” says Matt.
Regionally, Yorkshire Water – which earlier this year announced rises in bills of around £21 a year – has entered the third year of its biggest ever investment programme.
Between 2010 and 2015, the company is spending £3.5 billion to deliver significant improvements to its water and waste water services. This includes £120 million to help reduce the risk of sewer flooding by improving waste water treatment facilities and the company’s 54,000km sewer network.
To reduce the number of bursts, the company is replacing ancient and worn-out infrastructure in key areas. Last month saw the completion of a programme of work across Bradford and Keighley in which almost 13km of underground cast iron water pipes – some of which are almost 100 years old – are being replaced by plastic versions.
And in areas furthest away from the sea, work is on-going on peatland sites to stem erosion and improve water quality.
Says Matt: “When rain falls in our catchment areas, we want to ensure that the environment is in the best possible condition so that the water reaches our reservoirs in its purest form, and that treated water discharged into rivers and seas is of the highest possible standard.”
Adds Matt: “We are not only about drinking water supplies – we have a massive impact on the water environment as a whole, including rivers and beaches. Our new vision is taking responsibility for the water environment for good – managing water from source to sea.”