Located in central Pembrokeshire, this is one of two beaches in the county named Broad Haven. Measuring approximately 700 metres in length, this west facing beach is large, sandy and backed by the rural town of Broad Haven, with cliffs at either end. At low tide, the waters are shallow and a distance from the shorefront. Broad Haven Beach forms part of the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation and is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, 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 beach.
Natural Resources Wales works with Pembrokeshire County Council and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to identify sources of pollution that may impact on Broad Haven.
Inspections are carried out pre-season (before the 15th of May) and mid-season (during the bathing water season), by Natural Resources Wales in partnership with Pembrokeshire County Council and the water company, where required. Royal National Lifeboat Institution also have a vested interest in water quality and participate in plans to improve bathing water quality.
Discharges from storm overflows can occur within the vicinity of the Broad Haven bathing water. These discharges occur when heavy rainfall overwhelms the sewage system and causes diluted, screened sewage to spill, protecting domestic properties in Broad Haven from being flooded by sewage during heavy rainfall. These are prioritised and inspected as part of a coordinated 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. Four CSOs near Broad Haven (Central) are included in the project.
Natural Resources Wales has developed a good working relationship with Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and liaises regularly to identify problems that could affect bathing water quality.
Natural Resources Wales meets with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water during the pre-season and mid season inspections to review discharges and inspect assets.
Natural Resources Wales and Pembrokeshire County Council, have been working together to maintain water quality at Broad Haven for a number of years. Natural Resources Wales regularly attends community council meetings to provide updates on water quality.
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.
This bathing water is subject to short term pollution. Short term pollution is caused when heavy rainfall washes faecal material into the sea from livestock, sewage and urban drainage via rivers and streams. At this site the risk of encountering reduced water quality increases after rainfall and typically returns to normal after 1-3 days. Natural Resources Wales works to reduce the sources of this pollution through pollution prevention measures, work with agriculture and water companies. The Environment Agency makes daily pollution risk forecasts based on rainfall patterns on behalf of Natural Resources Wales and will issue a pollution risk warning if heavy rainfall occurs to enable bathers to avoid periods of increased risk. At Broad Haven (Central) there were a total of thirteen warnings of a pollution risk forecast during the 2018 bathing water season. These warnings were issued because of the effects of heavy rain on the water quality.
Streams and rivers are typically affected by sewage or industrial run off from further up the catchment. Two streams meet the sea at Broad Haven beach; Haroldston Stream to the north and Swanswell Brook to the south. Both are regularly monitored by Natural Resources Wales. The streams are affected by agricultural diffuse pollution, during periods of heavy rain fall. During dry weather, bathing water quality is generally good.
Within the Broad Haven Catchment there is a Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water sewage treatment works which is located at Walton West. It discharges north of Sleek Stone. This is a secondary treatment plant and ensures the protection of the 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 Broad Haven (Central), data are available for the four year assessment period from 2015-2018. Sewage debris was observed in trace amounts on over fifty per cent of occasions. Animal faeces was noted at intervals on one occasion in September 2015, the sampler noted that it was seagull faeces and that there were a lot of feathers present at the high-tide line, and on one occasion in August 2018. Trace amounts of litter were observed at the bathing water the majority of the time and in greater amounts on less than ten per cent of additional occasions. Oil and tarry residues were not noted at this site.
Significant areas of pastureland, occupied by livestock, feature in the largely agricultural catchments of the two small streams, which meet the sea at Broad Haven beach. Farms are prioritised and inspected according to their level of risk.
Natural Resources Wales continues to work with private owners to address potential pollution sources to the bathing water and places a high value on public participation to help understand environmental impacts. The work involves where necessary, advisory mail drops, dye tracing, misconnection surveys and face to face meetings.
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.
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.