<p>This beach is approximately 100 metres across, facing west out to St Brides Bay and is sheltered within a small cove in front of Little Haven village. One small stream drains onto the bathing water from steep sided pastoral land. The bathing water lies within the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation and the cliffs to the north and south form part of the Newgale to Little Haven 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.</p>
This beach is newly designated for 2012. Investigations carried out by Natural Resources Wales during 2012 will identify potential pollution sources to the bathing water and seek to reduce their impact.
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 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 Little Haven from being flooded by sewage during heavy rainfall.
There is one pumping station located near this beach which may, when overloaded during severe weather conditions, discharge untreated sewage to the brook, which drains onto the beach.
Little Haven is part of a complex but well managed sewerage system. Sewage in the village is pumped up to Walton West sewage treatment works, 700 m to the north east. This sewage treatment works then discharges treated effluent to the sea at Sleek Stone, approximately 2 km north of Little Haven.
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 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. Little Haven 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.
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 Little Haven, data are available for the four year assessment period from 2015-2018. Sewage debris was observed in trace amounts on between ten and twenty per cent of occasions. Animal faeces was not noted at this site. 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 Little 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 3 square kilometres and largely consists of pastoral grazing land with small settlements and farm buildings.
A few properties in lower Little Haven village have been susceptible to flooding. In 2017, Pembrokeshire County Council put in place a flood defence scheme at Little Haven beach to alleviate against any potential future flooding.
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.