'Abnormal' classification removed from beautiful Ogmore by Sea beach but water remains 'poor'

The river had been classified as abnormal over the last month before it was finally lifted in June 2024    A murky cloud of water seen moving down the river    Credit: A peace for nature
-Credit: (Image: A peace for nature)


An "abnormal" water quality rating has been removed from a popular Welsh bathing spot almost a month after a pollution incident which led to warnings for people to stay out of the water.

Bathing waters near Ogmore-by-Sea and the River Ogmore were classified as "abnormal" by Natural Resources Wales in May following fears of a leak from the nearby Penybont Wastewater Treatment Works.

An abnormal situation, as defined by the bathing water regulations, is usually declared when Natural Resources Wales becomes aware of an unusual pollution source that could affect bathing water.

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While representatives from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water initially thought the pollution could have been the result of a leak from the wastewater treatment works they have since said "no leaks or significant faults have been found" after investigations which were said to be inconclusive.

Further investigations led to the removal of the classification on June 18 with Natural Resources Wales informing Vale of Glamorgan Council that they could remove the signs placed at Ogmore-by-Sea beach to warn people of the pollution risk. Although the sea at the site is still classified as being "poor" water quality, one of only two beaches in Wales with the substandard classification because of the amount of fecal bacteria in the water.

Fiona Hourahine, operations manager for Natural Resources Wales, said after investigations it was believed that there was no longer an "ongoing pollution event" in the area.

She said: "Following our investigation of the pollution incident on the River Ogmore, including taking water quality samples upstream and downstream of the site since the start of the incident, we believe there is no longer an ongoing pollution event constituting an abnormal situation. Therefore we’ve removed the abnormal situation at the Ogmore-by-Sea bathing water.

"Although we have not been able to find the initial source of the pollution at this time we will continue our investigation and monitoring the area will also form part of our wider investigation into water quality in the catchment following the ‘poor’ classification at Ogmore-By-Sea bathing water at the end of the 2023 bathing water season."

Ogmore-by-Sea beach was classified as "abnormal" by NRW -Credit:Mark Lewis
Ogmore-by-Sea beach was classified as "abnormal" by NRW -Credit:Mark Lewis

However residents such as Mark Ryan, who is the chairman of the Ogmore Angling Association, said he and others still had concerns with the water quality around the Ogmore River and Ogmore-by-Sea areas.

He said: "This ongoing situation has been very disappointing for people who come here to use the waters and we need to see more of an effort to test in the area and find the source of the pollution. There was a lot of rainfall over the weekend which could have flushed a lot of that pollution away and from tests we've done and pictures we've seen we feel there could still be sewage being leaked here."

Speaking about the recent pollution incident Miles Punter, Vale of Glamorgan council director of environment and housing services, said: "The council is pleased that NRW testing indicates the pollution incident previously declared is no longer affecting water quality at Ogmore beach. We will now remove signs referencing the ‘abnormal situation’ from the area.

"However it is disappointing that the source of the problem has not been identified. It is also extremely regrettable that we had to take additional measures to discourage people from entering the sea with the beach still suffering the consequences of poor bathing water samples taking during 2023.

"Pollution incidents have become far too common. They impact not just the water quality but everyone who would otherwise be enjoying this stretch of the Heritage Coast. While Ogmore has much to offer, aside from its beach, residents and visitors deserve clean, safe bathing water to enjoy and we will continue to work with NRW and DCWW to achieve this." For the latest Bridgend news sign up to our newsletter here.