The bay is wide and sandy, with pebbles and rocks at either side. It is backed by a promenade with cafés, beach huts, limestone cliffs and a golf course. There is a coastal path to the neighbouring beaches of Rotherslade, Limeslade and Caswell. The water quality sample point is located at the centre of the bay.
Natural Resources Wales works to establish sources of pollution around Langland Bay. Some of this work is carried out in partnership with the City and County of Swansea and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.
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 1st of May) and mid-season, if required (during the bathing water season).
Natural Resources Wales, the City and County of Swansea and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water are investigating wrongly connected waste water pipes from commercial properties to a Dŵr Cymru outfall pipe at Langland Pumping Station. These misconnections have the potential to impact on bathing water quality in Langland and could affect the operation of the pumping station outfall in an emergency. Investigations are ongoing.
Langland Pumping Station has an overflow, which in an emergency can discharge to a point just above mean low water. Natural Resources Wales has not associated the pumping station with any bathing water quality sample failures. Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water are intending to carry out routine maintenance work on the outfall in the near future.
Until 1999, Swansea's sewage was discharged directly to the sea from the Mumbles Headland, less than 1.5 kilometres away. In 1999, Swansea's sewage system was significantly upgraded, when a new Wastewater Treatment System was installed at Fabian Way. This resulted in a vast improvement to the water quality at Langland Bay.
Recently, Natural Resources Wales has been working with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to trace the sources of pollution in the public and private surface water drains of the Langland catchment.
Natural Resources Wales works closely with the City and County of Swansea to monitor and maintain the bathing water quality at Langland. Meetings are held on a quarterly basis. Investigations and inspections are carried out in collaboration.
The City and County of Swansea has been working with the managers of misconnected properties and progress has been made to stop any immediate pollution.
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.
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.
The natural drainage (hydrological) catchment surrounding the bathing water is relatively small and bowl shaped, with steep upper slopes. The majority of the land in the catchment is urban and residential, with a golf course to the west of the bay and a car park immediately behind the beach promenade. The area is served by private and public surface water drains. Some surface water at the top of the catchment flows into the foul sewer, with the majority flowing down to the lower reaches of the catchment. There are no watercourses running onto the beach, but the rocks in the area are limestone, which allows any rainfall to percolate through the rock fissures and resurface on 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 England and 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 the Environment Agency and 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.