Bathing Water Quality

Bude Sea Pool is filled from the tides of the Atlantic Ocean. The water in the Pool is refreshed on the high tide twice a day for most of the year. The exception is when there are lower neap tides and no surf, when fresh water cannot reach over the sea walls. The Atlantic brings flotsam, jetsam, sand and stones over the sides of the Pool. The draining of the Pool and its dredging are part of its annual spring clean. The rest of the year, volunteers and staff help maintain the area around the Pool. The rest is down to nature, what we can ascertain from reputable sources and how we then communicate with Pool Users and Visitors, for them to make their own informed decisions.

Whilst it is a micro-environment in its own right, Bude Sea Pool’s location between Summerleaze and Crooklets Beaches means that the water quality at both may have an effect on the Pool as the sea water on the high tides can enter from both sides. Water Quality for both Crooklets and Summerleaze Beaches was classified as ‘Excellent’ in 2021 and 2019. This is determined by water quality sampling by the EA from May to Sept.

In season, Bude Sea Pool Seasonal Staff update the signage at the Pool to indicate if there has been a warning received regarding a risk to water quality of the bathing waters either side of the Pool. These warnings are freely provided by both South West Water (SWW) and the Environment Agency (EA) for the duration of the bathing season . There are two types of warnings: EA Pollution Risk Forecasts (PRF) – a precautionary warning that informs of potential risk of pollution; and SWW Combined Stormwater Overflow (CS0) – an alert which is issued to flag the operation of a CSO Friends of Bude Sea Pool signage mirrors this information.

EA Pollution Risk Forecasts (PRFs) are provided by the EA on a daily basis, normally between 08:30 and 09:00, and are based on rainfall affecting the river catchments draining to the beaches, as well as tidal, wind and sunlight information. EA PRF warnings are provided to SWW, Cornwall Council, Beach managers and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) who then mirror them in their Safer Seas and Rivers Service (SS&RS). EA PRF and bathing water quality sample data is available to the public for both local beaches on the EA Swimfo web site: Summerleaze and Crooklets.

CSO warnings are provided by SWW on a near real-time basis all year round, through its BeachLive system. These warnings are based on the operation of the overflows during heavy rainfall within a tidal window. SWW BeachLive warnings are provided to the EA, Cornwall Council and SAS (also for their SS&RS). BeachLive provides both warnings and advises when the warning can be removed. Both Summerleaze and Crooklets beaches are covered by both systems and warning of a risk to water quality from either system can be used by Cornwall Council to post advisory signage at the beaches. The content and information on the sign is generic in order to cover both types of warning, but it will have the date of the warning included. If no warning has been issued, then no signs will be displayed.

It is important to the Friends of Bude Sea Pool, the Charity that maintains this facility, to provide users and visitors with the best available information to make an informed approach. As SWW and EA provide meaningful data at the level needed, Friends of Bude Sea Pool doesn’t need to divert its funds into conducting its own water quality monitoring.

In some cases, particularly in high summer for a few days with low neap tides, there are blooms of natural algae that can create a foam or scum on the pool and may give off a rather unpleasant smell as they decompose. Seasonal Staff put up notices to inform members of the public when this is the case. For more information on these blooms and other sea life at the Pool, please see the 2022 annual handbook which is available for purchase at the Pool Pop-Up Shop and the Shop in Summerleaze Car Park for £2. The handbook is free to those Friends of Bude Sea Pool who have an active membership. For more information, check out the EA’s blog.