This sandy beach is approximately 500 metres across, faces south east over Carmarthen Bay and lies in front of a public car park and a popular pub. Within close proximity are several popular caravan and camp sites. A small river known as Fords Lake, which drains land to the north, flows into Carmarthen Bay and is an important freshwater influence to the bathing water. The bathing water lies within the Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation and the surrounding area forms part of the Saundersfoot to Telpyn Site of Special Scientific Interest. The bathing water is also located within Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, further highlighting the environmental value of the area. The bathing water sample point lies at the centre of the beach.
Inspections are carried out in partnership with the Pembrokeshire County Council and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. These are carried out pre-season (before the 15th of May) and mid-season, if required (during the bathing water season).
This beach was newly designated for 2012. Investigations carried out by Natural Resources Wales during 2012 have helped to identify potential pollution sources to the bathing water with a view to reducing their impact.
Problems were discovered with residential and commercial sewage discharges. In some circumstances the discharges were found to be having a minimal impact but required registration as exempt. Larger discharges were discovered without Environmental Permits and considerable work has been undertaken to provide pre-application advice to ensure these are legalised and ultimately compliant with the forthcoming permits. Whilst one cess pit was discovered as a significant pollution source, there are several others which require careful monitoring and improvements sought as required.
It is uncertain whether full sewage discharge compliance in the Step aside – Wisemans Bridge area would make the required improvements to significantly lower the risk of failing Guideline or Imperative bathing water standards. Further modelling may provide a clearer picture of the capacity of this area to receive treated sewage discharges.
In the upper catchment there are continued pollution risks from land management in the agricultural sector. Land use and farm infrastructure will continue to be monitored. The storage and spreading of slurries on land that has been compacted through poor management or during poor soil / weather conditions are likely to be the highest risks here.
Improvements made over the next three years will be critical in helping Wiseman‟s Bridge bathing water meet the Sufficient or Good Status of the revised Bathing Water Directive. Further there is a potential for Wiseman‟s Bridge to become a Site of High Public Interest revolving around the threat that this popular beach could have signs erected advising of pollution if further improvements are not made by the end of 2015.
Discharges from combined sewer overflows can occur within the vicinity of the bathing water. These discharges occur when heavy rainfall overwhelms the sewerage system and causes diluted sewage to spill. This protects domestic properties in the catchment from being flooded by sewage during heavy rainfall.
There are combined sewer overflows located within the catchment which may, under severe weather conditions discharge untreated sewage effluent to surface waters interacting with Wiseman’s Bridge bathing water.
Natural Resources Wales and Pembrokeshire County Council will continue to work together to improve the bathing water quality at Wiseman’s Bridge.
Without mains sewerage in the pipeline, more work is required by EAW/NRW and Pembrokeshire County Council to ensure that all residential and commercial premises with private sewage storage, treatment or disposal are compliant with the conditions of their Environmental Permit or registered Exemption.
Wrongly connected waste water pipes can affect the water quality of rivers and the sea. Any misconnections are investigated by Pembrokeshire County Council.
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. Wiseman’s Bridge bathing water may be influenced by the run off of surface water draining surrounding pastoral land during wet weather conditions. Run off from roads, properties and urban storm drainage may also influence bathing water quality. Reduced water quality at this beach may be experienced following heavy rain. Contributions from both private and public sewerage systems may also impact river water quality.
Wiseman’s Bridge is part of a long bay which has numerous freshwater inputs from other catchments within close proximity. Conditions within these catchments may have an impact upon this bathing water.
The Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water sewage treatment works at Templeton discharges directly to Fords Lake. However, this sewage treatment works is in the head waters of the catchment which will reduce its impact on 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 Wiseman's Bridge, data are available for the four year assessment period from 2015-2018. Sewage debris was observed in trace amounts on less than ten per cent of occasions. Animal faeces was noted in trace amounts on a minority of occasions and in greater amounts on one occasion in June 2018. The sampler noted that it was dog faeces. Trace amounts of litter were observed at the bathing water on between thirty and forty 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 Wiseman’s Bridge. Natural Resources Wales works with the agricultural community to discuss best practice where the potential for pollution exists.
In 2013 Natural Resources Wales will continue to investigate and encourage mitigation against risk of pollution by faecal bacteria from agricultural sources in the upper catchment.
The catchment affecting Wiseman’s Bridge bathing water receives treated sewage effluent from several private sewage treatment works.
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.
Over the last two years several improvements have been made to private sewage treatment systems in the Fords Lake catchment, which drains to the designated bathing water at Wisemans Bridge. These new or significantly improved sewage treatment systems serve large holiday complexes or small hamlets and some have Ultra Violet (UV) disinfection fitted. The improvements have improved bathing water quality, and for the first time Wisemans’ Bridge is now classified as Excellent.
The natural drainage (hydrological) catchment surrounding the bathing water comprises largely of dairy pasture and sheep grazing. Closer to the beach there are several caravan sites and small settlements. Fords Lake (a small river) drains land to the north and flows through the attractive ‘Pleasant Valley’ woodland before issuing out onto of the beach
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.