Posted: Fri 13th Oct 2023

Chester: Council chiefs eye River Dee bathing water designation

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Oct 13th, 2023

Council chiefs in Chester are poised to rubber-stamp an application to designate part of the River Dee as bathing water, after some members of the public claimed they had been ‘very seriously’ ill after coming into contact with polluted water.

Cheshire West and Chester’s ruling cabinet meets on Wednesday where it is recommended to approve submitting an application to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for a stretch of water on Sandy Lane in Chester to be designated as a bathing site.

It follows a report by a cross-party council task group set up in March to investigate sources and impact of pollution across the borough.

The group subsequently carried out a survey with 1,347 responses. The survey found some people had reported being ill after being in contact with polluted water.

The report said: “A high number of respondents expressed concerns about their health (and some including that of their dogs) after using the river.

“Infections and illness, some very serious, have been experienced by some people after contact with polluted water.”

The site on Sandy Lane has been identified as potentially usable for bathing because it fulfils the necessary requirements, including availability of toilets and parking facilities.

If DEFRA approves the application, the area would be monitored by the Environment Agency during bathing season (May 15-September 30). Inspectors would then designate it at the end of each season as either ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘poor’.

It would also investigate any sources of microbiological pollution and recommend measures to improve water quality.

The report said: “Bathing water designation does not mean the water meets bathing water standards or that the water is safe for bathers, but it can be the first step to ensure action is taken to improve water quality by reducing contamination.”

The stretch is considered a ‘high amenity site’ by the water company and has 14 combined sewer outflows.

Recommending approval, the report added: “Designation of part of the River Dee as a bathing water would ensure that information is provided to bathers on water quality, enabling informed choices to be made.

“It would potentially also be the first step to ensure that action is taken to improve water quality by reducing microbiological contamination.”

By Mark Smith – Local Democracy Reporter

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