Swimmers in Brightlingsea have been warned not enter the sea because of sewage pollution – on the day it was announced that the town's beaches have retained their Blue Flag quality status.
On Friday (May 13), the Environment Agency (EA) issued a warning about an "abnormal situation" due to sewage pollution and advised against bathing. The unspecified event was said to have started at 8.29am and was expected to end on the same day. However, members of Brightlingsea Sailing Club reported seeing a brown scum on the water off Bateman's Tower while racing the evening before.
In 2021, the last full year of recording before the pandemic, the waters around Brightlingsea were classified as excellent by the EA. On its website, the EA says that the Brightlingsea Sewage Treatment Works, which discharges into the Colne Estuary, "does not impact on bathing water quality".
High quality bathing waters are just one of the factors taken into account by the Keep Britain Tidy organisation, which awards Blue Flags – and Seaside Awards, which Brightlingsea has also retained for another year. Other factors include safety, environmental management, availability of toilets and public information.
Dovercourt Bay is the only other beach in the Tendring District with a Blue Flag and, along with Harwich, Frinton, Walton-on-the-Naze and Martello Bay in Clacton, retained its Seaside Award from 2021.
"People who visit a beach flying a Blue Flag or Seaside Award can be assured the beach will be clean, safe and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as international bathing water quality standards," said Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton.