Open Water Quality Position Statement

South Tyneside Council is passionate about listening to members of the public, working with you to improve the quality of our rivers and the ocean to enable nature to thrive while ensuring a quality environment for you to enjoy.

As a local authority we have an influencing and advocacy role.

We have recently demonstrated this by declaring climate and ecological emergencies along with an Ocean Recovery Declaration to ensure we have regard for the protection and enhancement of our rivers and coastal waters.

We understand that poor water quality can have an impact on public health, communities and the natural environment.

We endorse all efforts to minimise the release of untreated sewage into open water. 

We do however understand that in certain circumstances it is lawful and must respect this. 

This is a national issue and one which we continue to call on our government to resolve.

As a local authority we have no legal responsibility for the operation or regulation of the sewage system.

However, we can influence the amount of surface water discharged into these systems from new developments by improving water management through sustainable practises (commonly called SUDS - sustainable urban drainage systems). 

This reduces the impact on the sewage system and often provides improvements by releasing space within the system for it to operate more effectively.

Overall water quality is not just determined by sewage outflows.

There are impacts from birds, fish, dredging, shipping, coastal activities, agricultural run-off, industry, fisheries, freight along with the tidal nature of the environment.

All of these influence levels of bacterial and viral pathogens, chemicals and minerals in the water.

For this reason we urge members of the public to avoid ingesting open water and wash their hands thoroughly after contact with open water.

South Tyneside has two designated bathing waters which are given a classification each year based on the presence of bacteria in sea water samples taken by the Environment Agency during the bathing season from May to October. 

To find out the current status of our bathing waters, see GOV.UK: Local bathing waters.

For specific queries in relation to sewage discharges we will signpost you to the relevant authority but will not provide comment on processes which are set down in law and out of our control.

We are committed to being an advocate for ocean health to enable ecosystem recovery and enhancement in support of our vision to make South Tyneside a place where people live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.

If you are planning to access open water, please follow the guidance on open water safety.