An ambitious project to improve stormwater tunnels near the Fylde coast is set to benefit water quality and beaches across the region.
Coun Tommy Threlfall, Fylde Council cabinet member for Environment and Partnerships, hailed the expected impact of a £120m scheme in Preston which will boost water quality.
The United Utilities drainage project will prevent the discharge of “foul water” from Preston and its large rural hinterland into the River Ribble and then into the Irish Sea off Fylde, Blackpool, Cleveleys and Fleetwood.
Coun Threlfall said: “Bathing water quality is of vital importance to Fylde as we have a substantial tourist industry which would be damaged if we failed to hit new European Union targets in 2015.
“The good news is that the latest results of water quality tests are now available and they show we have made substantial progress towards hitting those targets.”
Progress in improving the quality of bathing waters in St Annes was discussed last week at a meeting of Fylde Council’s Community Focus Scrutiny Committee.
Concerns had been raised in 2012 over the quality of the town’s sea-water after a failed test sample.
Under European Union laws, the beach could have been blacklisted, with signs put up warning visitors of the water quality in the area.
Mr Threlfall added: “The quality of our water in 2013 was a big improvement on the year before, and we will need to keep improving at this rate ahead of the new, even stricter guidelines which will be introduced in 2015.
“There is still work to do but Preston’s new stormwater tunnels will be a huge help. Whitehall has also funded new monitors further up the Ribble that will help identify the sources of contamination.”
Work on improving bathing water quality on the entire Fylde coast is being co-ordinated by the Fylde Peninsular Water Management Group which includes Fylde Council, Blackpool Council, Wyre Council, United Utilities, Lancashire County Council and the Environment Agency.
A clean-up group called LOVEmyBEACH has been established to spread public awareness of the need to improve water quality along the Fylde coast and is asking the public to keep waters clean by minimising oils and fats in drains, by taking litter home and by preventing their pets from fouling the beach.