SWIMMING could be banned at Southsea beach after EU regulations on water pollution were tightened.
The Environment Agency has tested the water between South Parade Pier and Clarence Pier ahead of the new regulations being introduced in 2015.
It was found to be of ‘poor’ quality and, if it does not improve by the time the regulations come into force, bathing will be banned.
Both Portsmouth City Council and Southern Water, which is responsible for sewerage in the Portsmouth area, say two leaking sewage pipes, coming from South Parade Pier, could be to blame.
It is not known for how long the two pipes have been leaking.
But Southern Water says they will be fixed in the coming weeks.
David Evans, seafront manager, said: ‘New European regulations in water quality may mean that swimming in the sea close to South Parade Pier is not recommended.
‘We don’t have a problem at Eastney or in the section between Blue Reef and Clarence Parade Pier.
‘A few weeks ago we made some progress.
‘We are working with the Environment Agency to find a source of the possible water contamination directly adjacent to South Parade Pier.
‘I have spoken to the pier owners who have been very co-operative by allowing access to all areas required to complete this work.’
However, despite the leaking pipe, the council has stressed no-one has fallen ill from swimming in the sea.
Lee Hunt, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport at the council, said: ‘We’re working harder than ever to improve the water quality of our beaches.
‘It’s getting better all the time.
‘We have regular deep beach cleans and have never had any reports of anybody becoming sick from swimming at our beaches. We think that these are very stupid regulations.’
The new regulation, called the revised Bathing Water Directive, will set mandatory standards.
More than 50 other beaches in the UK could also be deemed unsafe under the new rules.
A spokesman from Southern Water said: ‘The coastal waters at Southsea haven’t got worse or more polluted but the requirements to be classed as excellent are harder.’
Councillor Luke Stubbs, the council’s conservative deputy leader, said the new rules were a mistake.
He said: ‘Signs branding the water as unsafe would damage the tourist economy and all for what?
‘We don’t need Brussels going round scaring people unnecessarily.
‘This is exactly the sort of thing that gets the EU a bad name.’
The current standards were put into place in 1975 and water quality has improved. But now different aspects of beach cleanliness could now have an impact on a beach’s grading.
The new rules will leave beaches more vulnerable to water running off farmland where leakage from animal dung and silage can lead to elevated levels of harmful bacteria.
Urban areas can also affect it where poor drains can lead to pollution.
Dog fouling and bird droppings are also considered to be major sources of bacteria that can lead to beaches failing safety tests.
THE revised Bathing Water Regulations will class beach waters as either poor, sufficient, good or excellent.
The classification system is based on how many types of different bacteria there are per 100ml of water.
For a beach to be classed as poor, they will have more bacteria per 100ml than the sufficient amount which is 185 units for intestinal enterococci - bacteria in intestines - or 500 units for E-coli.
The quality of the water is reviewed regularly depending on the class.
If a beach is poor, samples are taken every two years, if it is sufficient they are taken every three years and for good, every four years.
For excellent, samples will only be taken if they are suspected to have dropped a class.
Leaking sewage pipe to be repaired
A LEAKING sewage pipe will be fixed in the coming weeks to improve the water quality at South Parade Pier.
Southern Water identified two pipes which had been contaminating the water next to South Parade Pier, Southsea, but work will be carried out shortly to replace them.
A spokesman for Southern Water said: ‘Two private sewers coming from South Parade Pier were found to be in poor condition and in need of repair.
‘This work is now being planned and will be carried out in the coming weeks.’