The vast open beach is sandy with a steep shingle and pebble bank at the high tide mark. Sea defences in the form of groynes, stretch the length of the shore front to prevent coast erosion. Borth coastal water and coastal belt forms part of the Lleyn Peninsula and the Sarnau Special Area of Conservation, confirming the high conservation status of the area. The designated water quality sample point is located in line with the train station.
Natural Resources Wales works to establish sources of pollution around Borth. Some of this work is carried out in partnership with Gwynedd County Council and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water. Inspections are carried out by Natural Resources Wales in partnership with the local authority and the water company. These are carried out pre-season (before the 1st of May) and mid season, if required (during the bathing water season).
Modern sewerage systems have two separate systems, one takes foul sewage to sewage treatment, the other takes rainwater runoff through surface water drains to rivers, lakes and the sea. Misconnections occur when waste water pipes are plumbed into surface water drains instead of the foul water sewerage system. This can give rise to pollution when the waste water is discharged directly to the environment through the surface water drain. For example, a washing machine or toilet may be incorrectly plumbed so that it discharges to the surface drain rather than the foul sewage drain.
Phytoplankton (microscopic algae) naturally increase in number at certain times of the year. This process is known as a phytoplankton bloom.
Algal Blooms can occur at any beach during the bathing season and are usually noticeable by a surface scum. This beach has no history of such blooms.
Streams are typically affected by sewage or diffuse pollution from the upper reaches of the catchment. The River Leri flows 20 kilometres through the Borth bog salt marshes, before reaching the sea. It is possible that bathing water quality can be impacted by faeces from the large number of salt marsh lambs which graze on marshes.
Nant Brynowen also discharges onto the beach, 250 metres south of the monitoring point.
Poorly maintained private sewage treatment facilities could be a source of pollution, therefore the registration of all private sewage systems in Wales was required by 30 June 2012. The primary aim of this exercise is to provide increased protection for the environment and sensitive features such as bathing water beaches. Where properties are identified in the catchment that are not on mains sewerage, Natural Resources Wales will endeavour to ensure registration has been made.
The natural drainage (hydrological) catchment is primarily rural, with a small village, surrounded by several shops and cafes. There are a number of caravan sites in the area, with the upper catchment being mainly farmland. The Corsgoch Fochno, also known as Borth Bog is a vast area of flat peat bog, stretching over 5 kilometres, and makes up the east of the catchment, with the Dyfi Estuary in the north and the sand dunes of Ynyslas in the west.
Seaweed (macroalgae) and phytoplankton (microscopic algae) are a natural part of the marine and freshwater environment. Below we note whether these have been recorded in quantities sufficient to be a nuisance.
The majority of sewers in England and Wales are “combined sewers” and carry both sewage and surface water from roofs and drains. A storm overflow operates during heavy rainfall when the sewerage system becomes overwhelmed by the amount of surface water. The overflow prevents sewage from backing up pipes and flooding properties and gardens. An emergency overflow will only operate infrequently, for example due to pump failure or blockage in the sewerage system.
Heavy rain falling on pavements and roads often flows into surface water drains or highway drains, ending up in local rivers and, ultimately, the sea. The quality of bathing water may be adversely affected as a result of such events.
It is the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales role to drive improvement of water quality at bathing waters that are at risk of failing European standards. It is natural for water to run off the land to the sea. Water quality at a bathing water is dependent upon the type and area of land (the catchment) draining to the water and the activities undertaken in that catchment.