Scarborough Bathing Water Quality

Environment Agency – Scarborough (south bay) bathing water quality ranked POOR.

NEWS: A new National Laboratory Service report (October 2017) lists faecal matter as a factor contributing to the microbiological pollution in Scarborough’s South Bay bathing water. Human, dog and bird faeces are all contributing to the polluted bathing water, according to the 36 page report. Donkeys have been exonerated but trade effluent, and human sewage escaping from the Yorkshire Water WwTW, are described as factors contributing to the microbiological pollution in Scarborough’s South Bay.

Investigation into the bacterial communities in bathing waters and associated sites around Scarborough South Bay, 2016. Download the full report.

Extract from the report:


Microbiological water quality at Scarborough South Bay is cause for concern. Data over the last 4 years suggest water quality is variable over time, with occasional peaks in microbiological contamination. Multiple possible sources of bacteria could affect the water quality.

The aims of this study were to determine:
i. Is an industrial effluent a factor in the intestinal enterococci (IE) and Escherichia coli counts at the designated sampling point in South Bay?
ii. If so, how much of an impact does this industrial effluent have?
iii. Are there other factors, and how much do they contribute?

Samples collected around the area were analysed using standard bacterial counts to measure the levels of microbiological pollution, microbial source tracking (MST) to determine the original host animal group of the microbiological pollution, next-generation sequencing (NGS) to characterise the bacterial communities within the various samples, and a form of DNA-fingerprinting (rep-PCR) to compare IE bacteria isolated from the samples.

The results suggest:

1. The MST data gives strong evidence that pollution from sources other than the industrial effluent are present in South Bay.

2. The NGS data gives strong evidence that the bacterial community from the industrial effluent has an influence in South Bay occasionally.

3. The rep-PCR data suggest IE isolates most similar to that of the WwTW are the most widely distributed across all the sites sampled in this study. IE isolates most similar to those from seabirds and those from the industrial effluent are less widely distributed. Although not proven, one straightforward explanation for this is that the movement of water between the sites sampled is typically north to south, with less movement south to north. This matches observations from the NGS data and does not contradict the MST data.

4. The other pollution sources in South Bay are human, seabird and dog. Typically, a combination of these sources contribute to the total pollution.

NEW Download the full report.

pollution incident Water quality warning Bathing at this location is not advised due to poor water quality.

Current water quality classification is Poor, based on samples taken from 2014 through to 2016.

Advice Against Bathing Scarborough South Bay

Pollution risk forecasts: Scarborough South Bay

The Environment Agency website states:

“This bathing water is subject to short term pollution. Short term pollution is caused when heavy rainfall washes faecal material into the sea from livestock, sewage and urban drainage via rivers and streams. At this site the risk of encountering reduced water quality increases after rainfall and typically returns to normal after 1-3 days. The Environment Agency makes daily pollution risk forecasts based on rainfall patterns and will issue a pollution risk warning if heavy rainfall occurs to enable bathers to avoid periods of increased risk. The Environment Agency works to reduce the sources of this pollution through pollution prevention measures, work with agriculture and water companies. 14 warnings advising against swimming due to an increase risk of short term pollution were issued in 2016 for Scarborough South Bay bathing water. These warnings were issued because of the effects of heavy rain on the water quality.”

Yorkshire Water says:

“During the period 2010 – 2015 we allocated £110 million to help create some of the best beaches and cleanest bathing water in Europe. By working together in partnership with other organisations we aimed to secure the highest possible water quality standard at Yorkshire’s 19 designated bathing beaches. Bathing water quality in the region is already very high, but new European standards are raising the bar.

Thanks to our Blueprint for Yorkshire we have a plan that will help us meet these excellent standards.”

Despite the ‘boast about the coast’ made by Yorkshire Water and others, the bathing water quality in Scarborough’s South Bay is rated POOR (the lowest rating possible). Despite the cheering of Yorkshire Water, children are still paddling in human sewage polluted sea water.

NEWS: Responding to an online contact form request, a spokesperson for Scarborough Tourism Department confirmed that the poor bathing water quality in the South Bay area is being caused by ‘ongoing problems’ with the Yorkshire Water Waste Water Treatment Works located at Scarborough’s North Bay. According to the spokesperson, effluent is escaping from the Yorkshire Water WwTW and being carried by the current to the South Bay, causing the sea to become polluted.

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