This is information which has been sent to Colburn Town Council regarding the spillages.
Waters that are suitable for bathing are classed as such under the Bathing Water Directive (details of which are available on the Gov.uk website). The majority of designated Bathing Waters in this country are on the coast with very few inland watercourses being designated. Sour Beck is not designated as a bathing water. The Environment Agency is responsible for checking compliance with the Directive and samples are taken during the official Bathing Water season from April/May until September. During this period samples are taken for both chemical and bacteriological samples. Some of the UK’s streams are also monitored for chemical quality for water quality classification purposes under the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). Very few rivers are monitored for bacteriological quality because this parameter is impossible to control.
This is one of the major reasons why we don’t encourage people to swim in our rivers and streams and those people who do, do so at their own risk. Animals often defecate in our watercourses. Waterborne diseases can also be contracted from rivers such as Weils Disease (Leptospirosis) which is known to occur in water containing rat urine. The presence of naturally occurring blooms of Blue Green Algae in some water bodies can also be toxic to animals and cause people to become unwell, if they ingest it or it comes into contact with their skin.
Regarding children and dogs playing in the river. We receive many complaints about dogs becoming ill after drinking river water and we remind people that river water is untreated and can contain things which can cause illness in animals and children.
After visiting Sour Beck (in vicinity of Lindum Homes Development) we believe that there is no further work possible to re mediate the impact of the sewage pollution. Attempts to remove the silt from the beck (which you suggest has resulted from the sewage pollution) could potentially lead to more harm, by damaging the invertebrates living on the stream bed.
The outlet from the balancing pond has been blocked off by Yorkshire Water. We understand that they are seeking advice about the best way to deal with any residual contamination in the pond.
I hope this information is useful for people.