NORMALLY, the sight of someone prodding the sand with a metal pole on Weston beach means they-re a detectorist looking for valuables washed up by the tide.
But they could also be Environment Agency staff samplingwaterquality, trying to solve a mystery in Weston Bay and Sand Bay.
The good news is that we don-t suffer from the same problems as many other parts of the country, of Victorian-era pipes overflowing after heavy rains.
Our localwatercompany installed a huge new waste treatment plant down at Berrow several years ago and it works pretty well, so the local storm overflow is hardly used these days (it discharged just once last season for example).
But in spite of this, thewaterqualityin both Weston and Sand Bays still isn-t right. So I-ve been meeting the Environment Agency regularly to check on progress and, to be frank, they-re scratching their heads a bit.
Once they’d confirmed it isn-t the storm overflows, they-ve been looking for other problems like wrongly-connected drains, or farmers muck-spreading too close to rhynes instead.
They-ve already found several small-scale problems and closed them down, but they think there are still a few more which they haven-t discovered yet too.
There are some longer-term solutions underway as well, like reed beds in Wick St Lawrence to clean up storm runoff before it reaches local rhynes, sealing sewer pipes in Bleadon so rainwater can-t get in in the first place, and building new stormwater storage tanks in Winscombe.
But the Environment Agency detectives still have work to do so, we-ll be seeing them prodding the beaches for a little while yet until those last few sources of pollution have been found.
And, as I hope you-d expect, I will keep checking on progress until it-s properly fixed too!