This beach is approximately 800 metres across, facing south across Milford Haven Waterway and lies in front of low sandstone cliffs to the south west of Herbrandston. A small caravan site is also located on the cliffs above the beach. Sandy Haven Pill, which is the dominant freshwater influence to the bathing water, drains land to the north and finally flows into the tranquil Sandy Haven Estuary. The bathing water lies within the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation and the surrounding coast forms part of the Milford Haven Waterway 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).
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 from being flooded by sewage during heavy rainfall.
There are two storm overflows in this catchment that relieve Tiers Cross and Herbrandston sewage treatment works during severe rainfall. The storm overflow at Herbrandston may significantly affect water quality at Sandy Haven under severe rainfall due to its proximity to the beach.
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 Sandy Haven is included in the project.
The catchment affecting Sandy Haven bathing water has little sewerage infrastructure. There are sewage treatment works at Tiers Cross in the head waters of the catchment, which will have a negligible impact on the bathing water. The dominant sewage treatment network influencing this bathing water is Herbrandston to the north east.
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. Sandy Haven bathing water may be influenced by the run off of surface water draining surrounding pastoral land during wet weather conditions. Run off from roads and properties may also contribute to bathing water quality.
Two sewage treatment works discharge treated effluent within Sandy Haven bathing water catchment. Tiers Cross sewage treatment works discharges in the headwaters of Sandy Haven Pill. Herbrandston sewage treatment works discharges treated sewage effluent to coastal waters at cliffs, 250 metres to the south east of the bathing water
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 Sandy Haven, 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 Sandy Haven. Natural Resources Wales works with the agricultural community to discuss best practice where the potential for pollution exists.
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 approximately 25 square kilometres and largely consists of intensive agricultural land with small settlements, caravan sites and farm buildings. The most notable settlement in the catchment is the village of Herbrandston. An oil refinery also lies within the boundary of the catchment.
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.