Measuring approximately 4 kilometres in length, this beach is sandy, with a pebble bank above the high tide mark. It faces south out into the Bristol Channel and is backed by rocky cliffs on either end, with a promenade over looking the beach. At low tide, the waters are shallow and a distance from the shore front. Amroth coastal waters and coastal belt forms part of the Carmarthen Bay Special Area of Conservation, confirming the high level of conservation status of the area. The bathing water also lies within Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The water quality sample point lies at the centre of the beach, directly in front of the slip way.
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 15th of May) and mid-season, if required (during the bathing water season).
In 2008, a DNA tracer investigation was carried out at Amroth, to assess the bacteria levels of the three rivers (Colby River, Castle Stream and New Inn Stream).
The results of this investigation inform and influence Natural Resources Wales’ pollution prevention work.
During storm conditions, discharge from storm overflows can occur. These discharges occur when heavy rainfall overwhelms the sewage system and causes diluted sewage to spill. These protect domestic properties in Amroth from being flooded by sewage during heavy rainfall and are prioritised and inspected as part of a co-ordinated beach management plan.
A project known as Event Duration Monitoring (EDM) is underway to install telemetry on Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) within 2km of a bathing water by 2020 so that Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) know when the CSOs are operating and can work to reduce spills. One CSO near Amroth Central is included in the project.
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 has a history of such blooms.
Streams and rivers are typically affected by sewage or industrial run off from further up the catchment.
The Three rivers (Colby River, Castle Stream and New Inn Stream) flow through agricultural land and meet the sea at Amroth Beach, which may be a source of reduced water quality after periods of heavy rainfall.
DNA tracer studies on water quality have been carried out to assess the bacterial influence of the Fords Lake River at Wiseman's Bridge, approximately 1 mile west of Amroth beach. The results demonstrated that this is unlikely to affect the water quality at Amroth Beach.
Amroth is served by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water Sewage Treatment Network. Some inland properties and caravan parks have private treatment systems.
The 2 Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water pumping stations, pump crude sewage to the sewage treatment works. This is located 700 metres inland, on the New Inn Stream. These pumping stations are consented to discharge to the New Inn Stream and Colby River during storm conditions.
The Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water Sewage Treatment Works discharges treated effluent to the New Inn Steam, which meets the sea at Amroth. The asset is well maintained and fitted with a tertiary, ultra-violet disinfection process, to protect bathing water quality.
Natural Resources Wales samplers make visual observations of the beach at every visit. This includes assessments of sewage debris, animal faeces, litter and oil or tar. At Amroth Central, data are available for the four year assessment period from 2015-2018. Sewage debris was not observed at this bathing water. Trace amounts of animal faeces were noted at the site on a minority of occasions. Trace amounts of litter were observed at the bathing water on less than ten per cent of occasions. Oil and tarry residues were not noted at this site.
Significant areas of pastureland, occupied by livestock, feature in the largely agricultural catchment of Amroth.
Natural Resources Wales is working with a number of farmers to address potential pollution sources at Amroth Beach. A program 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 largely agricultural, with some caravan holiday parks within the small village of Amroth on the sea front. Three rivers (Colby River, Castle Stream and New Inn Stream) drain the catchment and meet the sea a short distance from the sample point.
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 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 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. The following sections serve to highlight potential sources of pollution, conditions under which they may arise and measures being put in place to improve water quality.