This sheltered beach is a small stretch of sand, measuring approximately 250 metres in length, with limestone rocks on either side. Located within Milford Haven Waterway, the bay is positioned just west of its larger neighbour, Angle Bay. The land surrounding West Angle is predominantly agricultural, with an oil refinery 4 kilometres east of the bay. The coastal waters form part of the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation, 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 at the centre of the bay.
Natural Resources Wales work with Pembrokeshire County Council and Dŵr Cymru to identify sources of pollution around the West Angle bathing 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).
This bathing water does have a history of large amounts of seaweed (macroalgae). The most important factor affecting bathing water quality at West Angle is that from buried seaweed. At the south of the beach, owing to a natural phenomenon, large quantities of seaweed can accumulate and under certain tidal conditions, become buried under sand. This does not happen every year and is impossible to predict. When present and in large quantities, the seaweed ferments and leaks a liquid that is high in bacteria out over the sand and into the sea. This liquid also has a strong, unpleasant odour.
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 has a history of such blooms.
Streams and rivers are typically affected by sewage or industrial run off from further up the catchment. A small piped stream runs onto the beach near to the access track and is usually of very good water quality. Over the summer it can dry up.
Natural Resources Wales places a high value on public participation in helping to identify environmental pollution. The beach at West Angle consistently returns excellent water quality and private owners are keen for this to continue.
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.
The small natural drainage (hydrological) catchment surrounding the bathing water is agricultural, with scattered single dwellings, a shop and a caravan park. An oil refinery lies 4 kilometres east of West Angle.
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.