Known locally as Porth Mawr, this sandy, west facing beach is approximately 700 metres in length, backed by limestone rocks and agricultural land. This beach is particularly popular with surfers and other water sport enthusiasts alike. There is a small stream which drains onto the beach from the agricultural land, below Carn Llidi. The coastal waters and coastal belt form part of the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation, confirming the high conservation status of the area. The bathing water also lies within Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The designated sample point is located south of the car park.
Natural Resources Wales works to establish sources of pollution around Whitesands. Some of this work is carried out in partnership with Pembrokeshire County Council.
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).
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. Two CSOs near Whitesands are included in the project.
Wrongly connected waste water pipes can affect the water quality of rivers and the sea. Any misconnections are investigated by Pembrokeshire County Council. Historically misconnections have been identified and removed.
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.
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 Whitesands, data are available for the four year assessment period from 2012-2015. Sewage debris was not observed at this bathing water. Animal faeces was not noted at this site. Litter was not observed at this bathing water site. Oil and tarry residues were not noted at this site.
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.
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.