PORTSMOUTH’S council leader has vowed that Southsea’s beaches will make the grade next year when stricter water quality measures come into force.
Gerald Vernon-Jackson’s comments come as the Marine Conservation Society publishes its annual Good Beach Guide.
Nearly all of the area’s beaches were ‘recommended’ and had excellent water quality when tested last year.
The main Southsea beach, east of the pier, continued to be rated ‘mandatory’ – meaning that it only reached basic European standards.
But in a victory for the city, the section of beach to the west of South Parade Pier was ‘recommended’ after only reaching the minimum standards in the past.
But, from the end of next year, it’s all change for bathing water quality standards.
The bar will be raised higher as bathing waters must meet a new minimum ‘sufficient’ standard, as set by the revised EU Bathing Water Directive.
This will be around twice as stringent as the current minimum standard, which the main Southsea beach reached this year.
Beaches that do not meet the minimum standard will have to display signs warning against bathing in the sea.
But Cllr Vernon-Jackson said there was no chance of this happening in Southsea.
He told The News: ‘We always thought there was an issue and we found the main drains from South Parade Pier were broken and leaking. We have had them mended.
‘We’re confident that we will pass and that will be fine.
‘There should be no problem for the future.’
He added: ‘Our beaches are wonderful and people should come and enjoy them as thousands of people do.’
The ratings are based on levels of bacteria, including e.coli, found in the water.
Higher levels of bacteria means more sewage has entered the sea.
None of the south’s beaches failed the tests, which were carried out last summer.
Excellent water quality was found at: Hill Head, Lee-on-the-Solent, Stokes Bay, Eastney, all of Hayling Island’s beaches, West Wittering, Bracklesham Bay, Pagham, Bognor Regis East and Felpham. Aldwick beach in Bognor only reached basic standards.
Overall the MCS has recommended 538 out of 734 – 135 more than the previous year. Part of the reason for higher standards was the dry summer, which led to fewer overflow discharges from water treatment plants.