A long-awaited report into why the sea water in Scarborough’s South Bay failed water cleanliness tests is likely to prove inconclusive, councillors have been warned.
Cllr Mike Cockerill said that although he had not received the final report from the Environment Agency, he had been given a summary of its findings.
Last year, the South Bay’s water failed to meet even minimum standards for water quality, being awarded a zero rating.
It followed a more than £50 million investment from Yorkshire Water to make improvements to the sewerage and sewage treatment systems and has left residents pressing for answers.
He quoted from the report at Monday’s Full Council meeting, saying: “It has become clear that there may be a number of sources of bacteria impacting on the bathing water quality, which are known to have impacted the final sample by occasional high peaks of bacterial pollution.”
He said a number of samples were taken at different times and tested against suspected sources, including from the McCain outfall pipe at Wheatcroft and human, canine and seagull excrement.
He added: “The key conclusions are that the final effluent discharging from the Wheatcroft pipe contains high levels of bacteria and that these were found, on occasion but not consistently, in the bathing water at Scarborough South Bay.
“There is a strong indication that seabird droppings are likely to be contributing to overall bacteria contamination of the bathing water. A marker associated with human pollution was consistently detected.
“A marker associated with dogs was found in the samples taken from Scarborough South Bay.”
No markers from cows or sheep were found.
Cllr Cockerill concluded: “It is most likely that the report will not provide the solution to the problem. It is most likely it will point to further work and actions that will need to be taken.
“There is no magic wand we can wave to solve this problem.”
He was responding to questions from Labour leader, Cllr Steve Siddons, who pressed the cabinet members for flooding and harbours as to why it was taking so long to get any answers.
Cllr Siddons said: “The South Bay DNA report was commissioned almost 12 months ago and we were promised the results in March.
“This summer has seen red and yellow flags positioned in the South Bay suggesting it is safe to bathe within their curtilage.
“Meanwhile, on a small sign near to the lifeboat station is another sign which suggests it may be inadvisable to bathe in the water.
“This is not an acceptable situation and I feel that [Cllr Cockerill] needs to get a grip before we have a serious health and economic problem.”