Dozens of beaches in Britain's most popular holiday resorts could be closed for bathing next year because high levels of sewage contamination mean they fail to meet standards required.
The new EU rules that limit the number of faecal bacteria allowed in bathing water could see beaches at tourist hotspots like Blackpool, Clacton, Scarborough, Ilfracombe in Devon and Porthluney cove in Cornwall, be closed down unless strong steps are taken to resolve the human waste issue.
The Environment Agency released the list of problem areas at the weekend, and said houses and business whose sewage outlets are wrongly connected to storm drains emptying directly into the sea could be to blame.
Christine Tuckett, head of bathing waters at the Environment Agency, told The Sunday Times: "In Torbay we found an entire hotel was misconnected so its sewage was ending up on the beach where its customers went swimming."
Bathing standards presently allow a maximum of 48 faecal bacteria per teaspoon of seawater before a beach has to be closed.
But this level of contamination is now thought to cause a significant number of stomach, ear and skin infections every year so, from next year, it will be halved.
Ms Tuckett added that "We have cleaned up most of the big pollution sources like sewage works and beaches are now much cleaner.
"About a third of the remaining pollution comes from agriculture, a third from point sources like sewage works and the rest is down to random factors like misconnected drains."
According to the Daily Mail, 'drain detectives' will patrol resorts like Lyme Regis, Hastings, and Teignmouth searching for misconnected properties and considering redesignating a different stretch of beach for swimmers.
Banning feeding seagulls on beaches, and more beaches banning dogs could also be in the pipeline.
Beaches on the blacklist will have this summer to meet the standard requirements before EU rules require local councils to put up warning signs next year.
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