Water, water everywhere, but is it safe to swim..?

Created 23 Oct, 2017

Did you know that Cormac plays a key role in highlighting any problems with bathing water at beaches?

There are currently 81 designated bathing-friendly beaches around Cornwall, with more to come in 2018.

Where water quality in the area could be affected by a pollution incident, Cormac is commissioned on behalf of Cornwall Council to put notices on site to warn the public. This is done with help from the RNLI Lifeguard Service and 25 volunteer beach champions. When we receive a notification, we have to contact the local lifeguards or beach champion and get them to put up a notice on the permanent signs we have on each of the designated beaches.

We act upon three types of events: 

  • Combined sewer overflow (CSO) notification- CSOs usually discharge when there is heavy rainfall, but can sometimes discharge when there are technical issues.
  • Pollution risk forecasting (PRF) notification - PRFs predict short term pollution associated with rainfall affecting water quality.
  • Abnormal situations (AS) notification- These are unpredictable, unusual and uncommon pollution events that have the potential to affect bathing waters.

During the official 153-day bathing season, which runs from 1 May to 30 September, we had people monitoring the notifications and ready to respond for every one of those days. During that time we dealt with 410 PRF notifications, over double the number from last year due to the exceptionally wet summer. We also dealt with 184 CSO notifications and 12 other abnormal incidents. Now out of season, we’ll be updating all the signs and their content. 

The Environment Agency recently completed an audit of bathing water quality signage at our sites and were highly complimentary of the quality and standard.  It is with pride we can say that our small, dedicated team has outperformed other teams with far fewer beaches to manage, and people can continue to enjoy their swimming knowing that we are keeping them informed and safe.

For more information on bathing water and quality controls, see Cornwall Council’s dedicated webpage.



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