The North Beach is an east-facing 800 metre wide stretch of sand, curving round to Tenby Harbour to the south. This beach is backed by limestone cliffs and is overlooked by a promenade and the town of Tenby. There is a large rock, known as Gosker Rock, at the centre of the beach between high and low tide marks. The bay is located within the Carmarthen Bay Special Area Conservation, with the cliffs and St Catherine’s Island being listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, confirming the high conservation status of the area. The bathing water also lies within Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The water quality sample point is located north of Gosker Rock.
Natural Resources Wales continue to work with Pembrokeshire County Council and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to identify any sources of pollution.
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).
Within the Tenby catchment there are a number of storm, emergency and surface water outfalls, that discharge around the town. These protect domestic properties in Tenby from being flooded by sewage during periods of heavy rainfall. The main pumping stations are in Tenby Harbour and at the Salterns. The Harbour Pumping Station has recently been upgraded to improve performance.
Wrongly connected waste water pipes can affect the water quality of rivers and the sea. Any suspect misconnections will be passed to Pembrokeshire County Council for investigation.
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. These algal blooms can occur at any beach during the bathing season and are usually noticeable by a surface scum. This beach does not have a history of such blooms.
Streams and rivers are typically affected by sewage or industrial run off from further up the catchment. Tenby North Beach can be influenced by the freshwater of the River Ritec, via a short sea outfall off Tenby South Beach.
There are also numerous surface water drains which empty into the water around Tenby which may sometimes be a source of poorer water quality, after heavy rainfall. High flows in streams, rivers and sewers, following heavy rainfall, may affect water quality.
Tenby's sewage effluent is pumped to the relatively new Tenby Wastewater Treatment Works at Gumfreston, where it is biologically treated and disinfected with ultra-violet light, to protect the bathing water quality at Tenby beaches.
Significant areas of pastureland, occupied by livestock, feature in the largely agricultural catchment outside Tenby and Penally. A programme of farm visits is carried out each year, to monitor farming methods and share best practice.
Poorly maintained private sewage treatment facilities could be a source of pollution, therefore the registration of all qualifying 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 discharges from properties are identified in the catchment that are not on mains sewerage, Natural Resources Wales will endeavour to ensure registration has been made, unless already a permitted discharge.
Natural Resources Wales places a high value on public participation in helping to trace sources of environmental pollution. Natural Resources Wales welcomes any comments or information from the pubic with regards to environmental pollution.
The natural drainage (hydrological) catchment surrounding the bathing water is urban, with the residential town of Tenby surrounding the beach.
The River Ritec feeds into a culvert at Tenby South Beach, issuing into the sea below mean low water. This river drains the town of Tenby, the village of St Florence and a large agricultural area.
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.