Environment Agency records 7,000 per cent rise in E. coli bacteria in water at Scarborough beach

  • Video report by Helen Steel

The level of E.coli bacteria in the sea at a popular beach has soared by almost 7,000% leading to warnings to the public not to go in the water.

Environment Agency figures from water quality testing at Scarborough South Bay showed the increase occurred just 11 days after a previous test showed minimal contamination.

It is believed the spike may have been caused by heavy rainfall leaving Yorkshire Water having to spill sewage through pipes along the Scarborough coastline.

The public have been warned not to swim in the South Bay due to pollution levels

But Yorkshire Water, who have invested millions into the infrastructure, insist that is not the case. A spokesperson said:"In the 48 hours prior to the Environment Agency sampling at South Bay on 1 August, our overflows did not discharge to Scarborough South Bay.

There are many sources that can have an effect on bathing water quality and these results highlights how complex it can be to identify the specific reasons for poor bathing water quality and why we must understand the other influences in the catchment, which the Bathing Water Partnership – ourselves, the Environment Agency and North Yorkshire Council – are trying to understand.”

Scarborough has been a holiday destination for decades and was hailed as Britain's first seaside resort but there are fears that pollution levels could cost tourism as well as jobs.

Steven Crawford, who runs a surf school, has lost his entire year's takings due to warnings not to enter the water.

He said: "All these people want to go to the beach to enjoy themselves, we shouldn't feel threatened about going in the water. We should be able to enjoy it."

The Environment Agency said that while the number of waters rated good or outstanding has risen across Yorkshire (which includes Scarborough's north bay) there is much more to be done to tackle the issue of pollution.

A spokesperson said:“Our investigations into what is driving the drop in quality at Scarborough South are ongoing - it is a complex issue as we know there are a number of different pollution sources that impact water quality at different times.

“Our teams are currently monitoring and sampling 19 bathing water locations across Yorkshire, including Scarborough South, and we will continue to work with the Yorkshire Bathing Water Partnership to understand the root of water quality problems and ensure people can enjoy cleaner, healthier waters.”

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